Updates From Scruffy Author Country

Yep, that’s who’s scruffy-lookin’.

I am at Minicon 48 this weekend, along with my girlfriend, the lovely and talented Elizabeth Bear. We’re reading on Sunday, Bear at 12:00 PM and Lynch at 1:00 PM, in Veranda 1/2.

The Republic of Thieves continues to speed on its way toward its destiny; my editors on both sides of the Atlantic are pretty pleased, and with just a few adjustments, the book will be going to copyedit. I do not have any news at this time about a timetable for audio versions or releases in other countries, but as soon as I get any scraps of concrete info over the next few months I’ll shout ’em.

There is more news coming soon, but for now I can at least say that the official launch-day signing event (and party) for The Republic of Thieves will be held at Pandemonium Books in Boston, from 7-9 PM on Tuesday, October 8th. Bear and I will both be there!

These Maps Are Not the Territory…

So, as promised, here are a few scanned maps from Ye Olden Days (2002-03) when what would eventually become The Lies of Locke Lamora was in what you might call active gestation… but damn, there was so very far to go. These are the sorts of things I would doodle night after night in a 24-hour family restaurant in St. Paul, MN, nursing my Diet Coke and trying desperately to feel competent.

At this point, I was still trying to launch the story via the plot elements that are set to emerge in The Thorn of Emberlain, the Vadran civil war in the Kingdom of the Seven Marrows. Strangely enough “March of Shite” and “Confederation of Fucking Unnamed City-States” did not catch on in later drafts of the background material.

This is closer to what eventually stabilized as Locke’s reality, though it’s vertical where the final version is horizontal and it’s on the wrong continental coast. Camorr, believe it or not, was originally called “Lorem,” which I thought of as just a nice elegant made-up word. I had not yet been introduced to the concept of “lorem ipsum” placeholder text.

This poor, torn-up, soda-stained map represents the oldest surviving recognizable version of Camorr, back when it was still Lorem, and back when I thought I had to have chintzy names for every last brothel on the waterfront. Some of the final elements have begun to gel… the lagoons and the generally nautical/hydrological nature of the city, as well as the vast towers linked by cables. Aspects of Venice were eventually incorporated into Camorr to flesh it out logically; it was not originally conceived as a straightforward analog of any sort. I honestly wish I could remember when my intent finally shifted for good from the epic wars in the north to the more intimate problems of Locke and Camorr… but it’s one of those things that is lost to the warm Jell-O salad of memory.


Hopefully, if you’re reading this, you now know that the semi-mythical beast known as The Republic of Thieves has at last been captured in the wild and given official release dates: October 8th in the US and October 10th in the UK. You can read the Gollancz announcement here and the Del Rey Spectra announcement here!

So what’s the deal with all the wacky release dates we’ve seen over the years?

They were more or less artifacts of bookseller databases. Basically, if a book is going to be available for pre-order, it needs to have a release date attached, any release date, even a ludicrous or fictional one. That release date kept shifting as the book kept failing to appear. Eventually, my publishers stopped even consulting tea leaves and the projected dates became still-more loosely tethered to reality. Add inertia and hearsay to the mix (some sites continued to post long-outdated fictional dates, others falsely reported that the book had been published) and you have the ingredients for a gigantic confusion pie.

And how do we know this release date is the real one?

I have Tweeted several times that I would vouch for no release date until I formally shouted it, myself, from the ramparts of my own blog and other social media. This is me shouting from the ramparts. October, 2013 is not a random guess from some poor sod behind a database. My publishers in New York and London hold a revised version of the complete manuscript that pleases them both; with that in hand to work from they have set forth a release date that is not a mere prayer of hope muttered over an empty cocktail glass. In short, to prevent the release of this book, you must now obliterate the planet Earth. Good luck with that.

What about release dates in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, etc.?

I do not have that information at my fingertips, but as I acquire it I’m going to try to set up some sort of central repository of known availability dates.

Now, the next few items are mild spoilers, so if you’re the sort of person who wants to preserve as much of the surprise as you can, skip the rest of this entry until mid-October.

When does The Republic of Thieves pick up chronologically?

The “present day” thread resumes the story a few weeks after the end of Red Seas Under Red Skies. The flashback thread shows several episodes from Locke’s early years, and then a long adventure from when Locke, Jean, and Sabetha were about sixteen.

So Sabetha is actually in this thing?

Yes, Sabetha Belacoros is finally revealed in person for the first time and is a major character in The Republic of Thieves.

Do we find out more about the Bondsmagi?

The Bondsmagi are fairly integral to the plot. We meet several more of them and explore their home city of Karthain.

What else would you say to tempt us without spoiling?

Well, you’ll get to spend more time with Calo and Galdo Sanza, as well as Father Chains, and there are cameo appearances by a few other familiar faces from The Lies of Locke Lamora. You’ll find out how Locke and Sabetha met (you can read it right now, in fact). You’ll witness the very awkward teenage years of the Gentlemen Bastards. You’ll find out more about the customs of the hidden religion of the Crooked Warden. You’ll see Locke and Sabetha deploying the full panoply of their skills, against one another and against the world. You’ll discover who brought proper coffee-making to Therin society, and you’ll learn vital elements of crossbow safety!

Now that TRoT is in the bag, what are you doing?

My immediate project is to refinish a novella (another long overdue project) called The Mad Baron’s Mechanical Attic, which will be published by Subterranean Press.

Although TMBMA and its companion, The Choir of Knives, were conceived as prequels to The Lies of Locke Lamora, I have decided after lengthy reflection that I’m not willing to contribute another inessential prequel to our society’s towering heap of the damn things. Although I think TMBMA is a fun story with a great cast and setting, it ultimately revealed nothing surprising about Locke and Jean’s history and it stretched the boundaries of what I consider acceptable retconning. I have come to believe that prequels should cast some accepted facts of their universes in a new light, and I just didn’t have anything up my sleeve in that department.

What I am deeply interested in, however, is the further adventures of Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen now that I’ve recovered something of my ability to push them forward. Thus, I am retooling these novellas as a bridge story between the events of The Republic of Thieves and The Thorn of Emberlain, one that is entirely optional but hopefully enriching.

After that, I will resume work on The Thorn of Emberlain, already in progress.