For once, the paperback version of a book will be available at the same time as the e-book. In fact, you can order the paperback of Kiss and Spell from Amazon now, so you might get it within a few days of the official release date. There were some kinks with getting the pre-order of the e-book available, but we're working on that. It will definitely be available from the major retailers Friday, but apparently they changed their pre-order policies without telling anyone, and getting them to tell what their new policies are is something of a challenge. I think we have to answer some riddles and find some sacred chalice or other that's being guarded by a dragon.
If I ever become such a bestseller that people are begging to publish my books, I may have to make that my policy, where they have to answer riddles and carry out a quest in order to win the rights. How people like Stephen King have resisted that urge is beyond me. After all the struggles I've had with publishers and having to jump through their hoops, there's a part of me that's dying to go all "Dance, monkey, dance!" once I get some clout. Though that's probably more something I'd fantasize about. In reality, it would just be drawing a few contractual lines in the sand and being willing to walk if they won't give in. I imagine that's what Stephen King does, though we don't know what dark rituals he forces his editors to perform for his amusement. There's probably a non-disclosure agreement involved.
Now for some recent reading. I've been on a relatively traditional fantasy kick lately.
There was Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed, which is a classic sword-and-sorcery type story in an unconventional setting -- a vaguely Middle Eastern fantasy world. Someone with great power is raising armies of ghuls to do their bidding, and if they get their hands on the throne, there's gonna be real trouble. The task of finding and facing this villain falls on the elderly ghul hunter who'd really just like to retire and his overly gung-ho (and a wee bit self-righteous) young assistant who handles the "sword" part of the equation. I kept seeing this in my head as a Saturday matinee movie with special effects by Ray Harryhausen. The world building is fun, and I liked the unconventional characters, like having an elderly hero in a swashbuckling adventure.
And then another Patricia McKillip book, In the Forests of Serre, which read like a fairy tale. I recognized fairy tale elements within the story, but they all came together to create a new story with original characters. A power-mad king demands that the princess of a neighboring kingdom marry his son (or else he'll take control of his neighbor in a more violent way). His son's not all that keen on it, having been recently widowed and still so heartbroken that he has little interest in life. An unfortunately encounter with a witch in the woods leaves the prince wandering and lost, which messes up the wedding plans, and there's an unscrupulous wizard eager to take advantage of that. There's a dreamlike quality to this book in that it feels very familiar from all the fairy tale elements, yet because it's its own story, it's not familiar. I liked the main characters a lot and loved the way they worked toward their happy endings. I've loved everything of McKillip's that I've read, so I suspect I'm about to go on a major glom and read it ALL.