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Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Nocturnall: Guest Post by Beth Bernobich

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It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Beth Bernobich's River of Souls Series. When she approached me to help her spread the word about her upcoming novella set in the same world, I jumped at the chance. She plans to publish the e-novella, Nocturnall, in December. However, because she wants "to give this story the professional treatment it deserves, including custom cover art from up-and-coming artist Jessica Shirley," she started a Kickstarter fund to help her release her story in physical form.

kickstarter-badge-backerHonestly, I'm not crazy about Kickstarters but I'm rethinking it because I want to help Beth. This will be the first time I pledge through Kickstarter and I hope many of you will help too. Below, you will find Beth's mini-essay explaining why this novella is so important to her.


by Beth Bernobich

In graphic design, the part of the page left unmarked is called whitespace. It's a critical element, whether we're talking about a web page, a magazine, or the pages of a book. And it's an active element that leads the reader's eye over the page and emphasizes what's important. Whitespace provides a balance.

There's a similar concept in fiction as well. A good novel will leave certain scenes unwritten, with only a reference to mark their presence. There might be times the story skips ahead weeks or even years, leaving that interval blank, or summarized in a few words. And we don't need to see those fives chapters of the protagonist's back story, only enough details to make the present events emotionally satisfying. The blanks in the story serve to emphasize and guide, just as whitespace does.

But what about the world and plot outside the novel's pages? What about the spaces between books in a series?

I confess, I love these gems scattered around the edges of novels. Take for instance, Martha Wells's Books of the Raksura series. Starting with The Cloud Roads, we get the story of Moon, a shapeshifter whose past is a blank, and who doesn't even know what he is. Throughout this book and the next two, The Serpent Sea and The Siren Depths, he finds a home with others like him, and earns a place in their society. He also fills in the blanks of his past.

The books are deeply satisfying on their own--Wells has created an intricate, imaginative world and peopled it with complex characters--but I was delighted to learn she also wrote a series of short stories and novellas, which she has collected into two books, Stories of the Raksura I and II.  In these books, we get to see events from the distant past. We get to find out what happens after The Siren Depths, as Moon continues to negotiate his way through his new life. You don't need to read the stories to enjoy the books, but if you do, you'll come back to the series with an even deeper appreciation for them.

And sometimes, the author writes a story that takes place long after the end of the books. Stephanie Burgis's novella "Courting Magic" is a capstone to her Kat, Incorrigible series. In the books, Kat Stephenson is twelve years old. She battles highwaymen, learns magic (sometimes with disastrous results), and plots romance for her older sisters. By the time "Courting Magic" takes place, Kat is eighteen years old and now it's her turn for romance. It's a delightful, frothy, and very satisfying endnote for the series.

Then there are stories that are like illuminated step stones between books. In Ellen Kushner's Swordspoint, we enter the world of Riverside to meet Alec of Tremontaine and the swordsman he loved, Richard St. Vier. The Privilege of the Sword takes place eighteen years later, and The Fall of the Kings, written with Delia Sherman, over twenty years after that. Lots of whitespace, and yet the series has balance. (And wit and exquisite prose.) But Kushner has written a number of short stories that take place in the interstices before and between those books. My two favorites are "The Man With the Knives" and "The Death of the Duke," brilliant, heartbreaking gems that lead us over the years from book to book.

Too many extras clutter up the whitespace, yes. But done right, those tiny accents balance the whitespace with the larger elements. Done right, these stories of "in between and after" let us view the world and characters through a finer lens.


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An epic fantasy story with political intrigue, secret agendas, and an everlasting love.

Nocturnall takes place thirty-five years after the end of Allegiance. There are secret agendas and political intrigue. Old enemies make their reappearance. But most of all, it's a story about a love than spans across lifetimes. My editor loved it, and suggested we include Nocturnall as an epilogue to the novel. I felt that would only muddy the book's ending. Better to publish the story later, as a stand-alone.


River of Souls series

 bernobich - Passion Play  Beth Bernobich - queen's Hunt  Beth-252520Bernobich-252520-252520allegiance_thumb-25255B3-25255D

About Beth Bernobich

Beth-252520Bernobich_thumb-25255B1-25255DBeth Bernobich is the author of the epic fantasy trilogy, River of Souls, from Tor Books. Her latest book is The Time Roads, an alternate history about mathematics, murder, and time. You can read more about her on her website. You can also follow her on Twitter or friend her on Facebook.


Again, here is the link to the Kickstarter.


stephsig moon

Tynga is a 32 years old mom of two, from Montreal, working as a lab technician in an hospital specialized in heart disease. In her free time, she enjoys reading all things Paranormal and photography.

Follow Tynga on: Facebook | Twitter

3 People left their mark' :

  1. Beth, thanks so much for including me in this fascinating round-up, with such treasured colleagues!

    Just wanted to let you & any curious folks know that "The Man with the Knives" - and several other Riverside/Swordspoint "White Space" stories - are available online, via links are under titles on the "Chronology & Short Fiction" page of my website: http://www.ellenkushner.com/the-world-of-riverside/chronology/
    It also has a complete list of the "interstitial" stories and where they fall relative to the books.

  2. Thanks Ellen for visiting. I haven't read any of the series or authors Beth has mentioned. So many new books to add to by shelves.

    Thanks for posting the link!

  3. Ellen, You're welcome! And it's a treat for me to talk about the books and stories I love.