For probably the only time in my career, I had two books come out on the same day this past week: The Lost Kingdom and Cave of Wonders: Infinity Ring Book 5. I’ll be celebrating this rare event with a double launch party at The King’s English! Please come! I will speak and read and sign your books, even!
When: September 5th, 2013 at 7 PM
Where: The King’s English, 1511 South, 15oo East in Salt Lake City
Over the weekend, the lovely Betsy Bird at Fuse #8 kindly hosted the cover reveal for my next middle grade project, The Quantum League. It’s a magical crime saga that I’ve talked about a bit before. I’m really excited for it, and I’m happy to now put the cover up here:
What do you think? I think it is made entirely of awesome, and it incorporates a lot of the book into it. My thanks and appreciation to the talented artist, Jason Chan. To see more of his work, check out his site.
So, Disneyworld. If you’re planning to go at some point, might I suggest timing your visit with a tropical storm? I was in Florida teaching at a regional SCBWI workshop. The workshop was great. I taught the fantasy class with agent Joe Monti, and it turns out he and I share considerable brain real estate – similar tastes in fiction, similar approaches to writing and books. And we both have a deep and abiding love for Ursula K. Le Guin, something that pretty much guarantees my friendship.
While I was there, I took advantage of the fact that the conference was held inside Disneyworld, and made my way over to the Magic Kingdom. The day’s rain had already started, but I never once considered bailing (pun not intended, although there was a lot of rain). I just bought an over-priced poncho and went for it, and let me tell you, tropical storms do wonders for clearing crowds. The funny thing is, I didn’t actually know it was a tropical storm until the day was almost over, and people were texting me, “Hey, are you okay? There’s a tropical storm going on.” The place was a ghost town. I don’t think I waited longer than 15 minutes for any ride, and I didn’t need fast passes. I mean, look at this:
“Um, where is everybody? Is there something I don’t know…?”
The storm cleared out by the end of the day, and the crowds piled in, but by then I’d already done everything, and eaten myself silly. I was soaked, and it was awesome.
Then, last week, I taught at the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Workshop. I love that conference, and I always will. Steve, my agent, was there on the faculty, and so was Martine Leavitt. It was like a little reunion, and it meant a lot to me. I taught the advanced novel workshop, and my class was amazing. So much talent and creativity. I was honored to look at each of their work, and I’m sure you’ll be seeing their books in stores soon.
In just a few short months, Cave of Wonders and The Lost Kingdom will hit the shelves. My book tour is shaping up, so check back here for details to see if I’m coming to your neck of the woods.
Hey, everyone! I’m relieved and excited to say that I have finished my installment in the Infinity Ring series, which is book #5, and will be out this fall. This series has been so fun to work on. Books 1 and 2, by James Dashner and Carrie Ryan, have both been bestsellers, and I’m so thrilled for them. They really got the story off with a bang. A couple more things I’m excited about:
Lisa McMann’s book 3, The Trap Door, just came out last week, and I hope everyone goes out to pick up a copy. If you want a taste, click here to read an excerpt.
The online game that accompanies it involves Samurai and Ninjas, or in other words, it’s made of awesome. Click here to check it out.
Finally, the Infinity Ring message boards are now live, so click here to visit them, and if you’ve read the books, be sure to leave a comment. The folks at Scholastic are really excited to hear from fans.
That’s all the news for now. (Except, I’ve read Matt de la Peña’s book 4, and it’s amazing!)
I’m really excited to share the cover for my next middle-grade novel, The Lost Kingdom! This novel is significant to me on a personal level, because an earlier draft of it was the first piece of novel-length fiction I’d ever attempted. It was how I first attracted the attention of my agent, Stephen Fraser, even though he ultimately advised I put it aside and write something new, which I did. But he and I both knew there was still something there, and with time and distance, I was able to see what the story needed and wanted to be. After writing Icefall, I decided to come back to it, and The Lost Kingdom now bears little resemblance to that earlier draft except in the most sweeping and general terms. But it feels good to have hopefully done right by it. So, here is the cover:
As I’ve said here and elsewhere, I think of this book as a Jules Verne-esque Colonial American fantasy. Here is the synopsis from the cover:
At last Billy Bartram has received the invitation he’s waited for all his life: His father has asked Billy to join him on one of his expeditions into the vast American wilderness. Traveling in a massive flying aeroship, Billy and a secret society of philosophers and scientists venture west in search of the lost kingdom of the Welsh prince Madoc, to seek aid in the coming war with the French. But the wilds of colonial America hide a host of secret dangers — from a terrifying bear-wolf that haunts their every move, to a party of French soldiers hot on their trail, to a spy and traitor in their midst.
Billy will face hazards greater than he has ever imagined as, together with his father, he gets caught up in the fight for the biggest prize of all: America.
Award-winning author Matthew J. Kirby brings his signature storytelling prowess and superb craft to this extraordinary story of fathers and sons, the beginnings of a nation, and remarkable wonder-filled adventure.
I’ve been very, very busy lately, and I’m just poking my head up for a moment to say that yes, I am alive, before dropping back under. (Although. I am on twitter, now, and I am able to update there a lot more frequently than here, FYI.) In the past few weeks I’ve written the bulk of the first book in the Quantum League series, and now I have to switch gears to write my installment in the Infinity Ring series. So I’m going from a magical-heist novel, to Golden Age Baghdad, and I’m having way too much fun with both of them.
Before I go, I just want to say a few things.
First, if you have emailed me in the last few weeks (or *ahem* months) I’m sorry if I haven’t gotten back with you. I hope to get caught up on my email soon, but I’ve been saying that for a while now.
Second, I am behind on a few things people are expecting from me, and have been expecting for quite some time. You know who you are. Thank you very much for your patience.
Third, Icefall will be out in paperback on February 1st (officially – you’ll probably spot it before then), and the ebook price has dropped recently as well. Just in time for Christma- Oh, wait…
Now that I have said those things…
Do you remember the 12 year old composer I’ve mentioned before? Well, he just won first place in the student competition of the National Association of Composers for a piece inspired by the green violin in The Clockwork Three! Here is his acceptance, and a performance of the piece.
And here are some more wintery photos from the last couple of weeks. First, a couple of the lake by my house:
And one of Muppet, who treats snow like Scrooge McDuck treats his money bin:
And a couple of deer, as photographed from my bedroom window, hence the slight blurriness:
And finally, the other day we left the house, a single Oreo in its plastic sleeve on the kitchen counter, and we came home to this. There was no one home but the cat. I think Oreos should include “No opposable thumbs necessary!” on their packaging.
I’m very excited to let you all know that I will have a second fiction series beginning in 2014! From Publishers Weekly:
Donna Bray at HarperCollins’s Balzer + Bray imprint has acquired a three-book middle grade SF trilogy, Infinite Winter, by Edgar and PEN Award-winner Matthew J. Kirby. In his new project, the daughter of a climate scientist tries to unlock the secrets of a new Ice Age. The series will debut in fall 2014; Stephen Fraser at the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency sold world rights.
It’s still a bit early to go into more detail, but I can tell you that it involves aliens, and I’m really looking forward to this project.
This second announcement is not nearly so exciting. But you may have noticed a new Twitter feed in the sidebar. Because I’m now on Twitter! Come follow me! @writerMattKirby
I meant to post this a long time ago, but somehow forgot. (I say “somehow,” but really there’s no “somehow” when you forget things as often as I do.) You may remember Alessandro, the young musician who composed a quartet inspired by The Clockwork Three. Well, he has done the same for Icefall, and I continue to be amazed by this young man’s talent.
Here is how he described the piece:
Sextet on an Ice Epic is a piece inspired by Matthew J Kirby’s book Icefall. The structure of the piece loosely reflects the story:
• A “run-away” theme plays when Solveig, a young princess, is forced to run away in an icy land.
• She spends a lot of time alone, like a star in the Northern sky, sad but strong (sweet “Solveig theme”).
• Enemies arrive, they want to kill her! Solveig’s warriors fight to defend her (battle theme).
• The run-away theme returns, since Solveig and her warriors are forced to run off, but …
• Solveig has an idea and the enemy is defeated (“tumbling down” theme).
• Her dad, the king, finally arrives and Solveig is now happy again (peace theme).
A few weeks ago, Scholastic was kind enough to send me to Los Angeles to receive the PEN Center USA Award for Icefall. I have to say, I think this was one of the most intimidating events I’ve been to. It’s partly because I was there alone and didn’t know anyone. It’s partly because it was held in Beverly Hills, and I’d spent that afternoon walking past stores I didn’t think I could even afford to set foot in. The banquet and ceremony were held in a ballroom at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and there was a cocktail reception before the event, during which I was just sort of hanging out on my own at the edges, watching the people and simply enjoying being there.
At one point, while I was texting my editor, I looked up and saw someone standing right in front of me who seemed familiar. She had red hair, and it took about five seconds for me to think to myself, “That’s Molly Ringwald.” And before I could decide if it was a good idea to say anything to her, she looked at me and smiled, and I smiled back and blurted out, “Are you Molly Ringwald?”
“Yes,” she said.
I’m sure at this point she usually gets the Breakfast Club or 16 Candles appreciation, but I was more interested in the fact that I thought I’d heard she’d written a book. So I asked her about it. It’s a collection of short stories tied together by a theme of betrayal called When it Happens to You. We talked about that briefly, and then she asked about my work and we talked about Icefall.
The whole interaction lasted maybe two minutes, but it was kind of fun to have a Hollywood moment while I was there. I thought about asking to take a picture with her, but after feeling the mood of the room, I decided I didn’t want to be that guy.
That’s me giving my speech. Thanks to Drew Filus for snapping the picture.
When I went up to receive my award and give my acceptance speech, I talked about what an honor it was to receive the same award that had been given to Ursula K. Le Guin a few years ago. I haven’t ever blogged about Ms. Le Guin in detail, or what her work has meant to me. I think that’s something I need to remedy in the near future. I am a writer because I read her books.
It was a really wonderful evening. Thank you again to PEN Center USA for the honor, and to Scholastic (I’m looking at you Candace!) for their support in sending me. And congratulations to the other finalists!
We had our first snowfall of the year a couple of days ago, and woke up to this:
The back yard.
The front yard.
Pretty magical. I looked out the window and felt a bit like Ralphie in A Christmas Story on Christmas morning, with the harp music playing and everything. It has put me in mind of the holidays, that’s for sure.
And speaking of holidays, a good friend of mine, Kimball Fisher, has written a short story for the Christmas season. It’s titled Finding the Baby Jesus. I really enjoyed it and blurbed it. It’s available through Amazon.
Yesterday, I received copies of the German translation of Icefall. I think it’s a really interesting take, and I particularly like the tattoos on Solveig’s hand and face. I had never pictured her that way, but I think it’s pretty cool. It’s also fun to see how widely interpretations of the material can vary, when comparing this, the more realistic German cover:
to the more fantastical, almost ethereal Italian translation:
In some ways, this is actually a reflection of the different ways people read the book.
Just a reminder, I’ll be in Utah this week doing a couple of library events on the 17th, in Murray and Brigham City. If you’re in the area, come on by! Details to the right in the sidebar.
I’ve been researching quantum theory recently, and by “research” I mean that I’m trying to wrap my math-challenged head around something that is even more amazing, disturbing, and shocking than I thought it was. Things (very small things) really can be in two places at once. The observation of something writes the history of that thing before you observed it. Schrodinger’s cat can be both alive and dead. Two electrons can affect one another across vast distances, instantaneously. The quantum behavior of very small things defies our intuitive understanding of the world around us, supplanting the Newtonian “approximation” that we take for granted. Quantum physics is where it’s at, and it’s pretty mind-blowing. I mean, it’s arguably the most proven theory in all of science, and a third of the world’s economy is comprised of industries based on quantum mechanics (things like lasers and the microprocessor in your computer and your phone).
I’m researching all of this for The Quantum League, and it’s got me really excited to write the series. If you’re interested, Brian Greene, a physicist with a gift for being able to describe very complex concepts in understandable ways, took on the quantum realm for the PBS show Nova. You can watch it below, if you’d like.
And now, some pictures of my new yard and neighborhood, as promised.
my front yard
my back yard
the view from my office
The family of turkeys that love to stroll through my yard, completely unperturbed by my two barking dogs, whom they drive completely insane.
And now, a few pictures of the neighborhood.
For those of you who are of a certain age, do you remember the movie Red Dawn with Patrick Swayze? Well, last night I dreamed it. Sort of. I’m still not sure who the invaders were, but they were Russian-like. Except they had ships like those crazy flying armored whale things in the Avengers.
Yes. Like that.
Well, since Robert Downey Jr. et al never made an appearance, the Russian-ish invaders pretty well managed to subjugate the populace. Everyone was just surrendering. That was when my brother and me got a rocket launcher. (That sentence would make you chuckle, or at least raise an eyebrow, if you knew my brother and me.) And we shot down one of these ships. But it didn’t just fall out of the sky. No, it careened, smoking, blazing, right over our heads into the White House. The explosion that followed would make Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich both applaud and weep and turn in their directors’ chairs and bullhorns (they use bullhorns, right?) in the knowledge that they will never, ever be able to surpass such cinematic awesomeness.
After the shock of seeing something so spectacular wore off, the pseudo-Russians started looking for who had fired the rocket, so my brother and I stashed the launcher in an open cab and walked away. No one knew who had done it. We were anonymous heroes.
I woke up at that point, but if I had continued dreaming, I’m certain our bravery would have inspired others and incited an uprising that would ultimately drive the vaguely Russian invaders from our soil.
The thing is, I don’t normally remember my dreams. One of the last dreams I remember led to Icefall. I doubt this dream will lead anywhere, fictionally, but if it does, watch out, Bay and Emmerich.