I have not announced this before because when I said I’d go along, Team Human was still a secret! So Justine Larbalestier, my esteemed co-writer and a Guest of Honor at the convention, said ‘Come along and do a Team Human presentation with me.’
So I said I would, but could not tell the internet! Secret, you see. Like a ninja guest.
Except now you all know about Team Human and I can tear off my ninja mask and reveal myself!
Sirens is quite an important anniversary for me, for reasons I am about to tell you all.
Last year when I went to Sirens, I was so, so sad. Not because of Sirens! Sirens is lovely, and the company and discussions were fabulous. I had lots of friends there, and met lots of lovely new people.
One of these people was Mallory Loehr. I travelled to Sirens with the lovely Holly Black, and she already knew Mallory, as Mallory was the editor for Holly and Ellen Kushner’s Bordertown anthology.
SARAH: Clearly a lady of excellent taste.
HOLLY: I should say! She edits Tamora Pierce.
SARAH: So you are saying she is a genius.
HOLLY: She is the coolest.
SARAH: Now I am scared to meet her! Oh no, here she comes! Holly, stand in front of me.
HOLLY: Sarah, you are a head taller than me. How do you think this is going to work?
MALLORY: Hello Holly! Hello, head of the person standing behind Holly! I hope somebody at this convention talks about Diana Wynne Jones.
SARAH: I… love… Diana Wynne Jones…
MALLORY: She is the best!
SARAH: Holly you were right, Holly! Mallory is the coolest.
‘Yes, Sarah,’ you may be saying to yourself. ‘You met some really cool people and had some excellent discussions. That’s tragic.’
The tragic thing was that at the time I was convinced the whole 'Demon's Noun' trilogy was a complete fluke and I would never be published again. After all, I was the loon who was like ‘Demons! Everyone change points of view like musical chairs! Heroes with no proper feelings! Gay characters, that always helps! Commerciality, what is that? I do what I want!’
I seem to have little sense of commerciality. I mean, I would like to be commercial, in that it means lots of people read your books! I would enjoy that. Also then people keep publishing you, and you can tell more stories and eat and pay for electricity and stuff: I find telling stories and also electricity very enjoyable.
I just don’t… know how to do it right…
A sample of A Conversation About Achieving Commerciality.
LOVELY AGENT KRISTIN: What about YA dystopia? People love dystopia. People love The Hunger Games and that book Matched is coming out. Do you think you would like to write a dystopia?
SARAH: I would love to write a dystopia! Okay I have this one idea for a future world where the social rules are like the court of Eleanor of Aquitaine—and there’s a eunuch romance!
LOVELY AGENT KRISTIN: Eunuch… you… do you have any other ideas for YA dystopia?
LOVELY AGENT KRISTIN: Oh thank God.
SARAH: Okay, the world has been taken over by ghosts, and there’s a love triangle!
LOVELY AGENT KRISTIN: That one sounds pretty good.
SARAH: The love triangle ends in a threesome!
LOVELY AGENT KRISTIN: … You know, I think we maybe shouldn’t do this. Just write what you want. Follow your star! You are a good writer, even if you are a total lunatic.
SARAH: Then can I write the Gothic story? Oh can I, can I?
LOVELY AGENT KRISTIN: A nice dark gothic romance might actually be…
SARAH: FULL of jokes! And people who don’t like touching!
LOVELY AGENT KRISTIN: Yeah. Okay. Follow that star, kid. It’s yours. March to the beat of a different drummer while you do it. I must go somewhere and cry softly.
SARAH: … I better not tell her I am writing a secret vampires book yet…
So, following my star it was, due to my total uselessness! And I was very happy writing away. But also gloomily contemplating my future. What would I do?
My uselessness was made clear some more when I arrived in Colorado and realised I had no bathing suit.
SARAH: *gloomily takes to pool in black undergarments*
HOLLY: You could buy a swimsuit, you know.
SARAH: I shall write millions of books and nobody will ever read them. Ever!
HOLLY: Aw, I really like the new one.
SARAH: Yay! Really, you like the Gothic romance? Yay!
HOLLY: Well, it’s not very romantic… I mean, Kami doesn’t have a romantic bone in her body…
SARAH: I am going to drown myself like Ophelia.
HOLLY: Pretty sure Ophelia wasn’t in her underwear.
SARAH: Oh my God, nobody is going to want to read a Gothic comedy, or the secret book I’m writing!
HOLLY: You’re writing a secret book?!
SARAH: Shhhh. It’s a secret. You can’t know. I’m like a ninja.
HOLLY: You’re yelling. On top of a mountain. In your underwear.
SARAH: …. I said shhhh!
Obviously once I could no longer be a writer, being a ninja was right out. I was thinking maybe being a mascot of some kind. Wear a chicken suit, bring a cricket team good luck, go home and write books. (Possibly while still wearing the chicken suit.)
But then I told my agent that I’d written a secret book. Lovely Kristin, and Justine’s fabulous agent Jill, were both pretty surprised! But after checking us to make sure we did not have fever and reading the book, they sent it out to editors.
KRISTIN: Sarah, fabulous news! Several publishers are going for Team Human. Looks like an auction!
SARAH: No, no, wait, back up a second… by several, do you mean ‘more than one’?
SARAH: I don’t understand. Like, more than zero?
KRISTIN: Sarah, I knew you were bad at maths, but…
SARAH: Are you sure there hasn’t been a misunderstanding?
SARAH: Ahhhhhh! You’re kidding! You’re kidding! This is unbelievamazing! I am incredulighted!
KRISTIN: Oh, she’s makin’ up the words. Yes, she is makin’ them right up, here we go…
SARAH: This is all thanks to Justine! Yes, that makes sense. Of course people would wish to publish Justine! She is a marvel! Okay I’m going to go out in the street and dance my ‘Vampire Boyfriends Are Hilarious Book Is Getting Published!’ dance.
KRISTIN: Sarah! Sarah, watch out for cars…
And then the time came for Unspoken to go out to editors. I was ready. There was no Justine Marvel to save me now. I was already looking into chicken costumes.
KRISTIN: Sarah! This is so great! There is an auction for Unspoken. And you know that editor at Random House you said you really liked-
SARAH: Mallory! She could not be cooler if she was Queen of Cupcakelandia!
KRISTIN: Sometimes I translate the stuff you say to make sense in the human world.
SARAH: Yeah, don’t worry about that, I’m not cool enough for Mallory, I just wanted to send it to her as like, an offering-
KRISTIN: She wants it.
SARAH: …. Okay, there’s been a mistake.
KRISTIN: There hasn’t been a mistake, Sarah.
SARAH: Whose book did you send her, Kristin?
KRISTIN: I definitely sent her your book, Sarah.
SARAH: … Do you think maybe she hit her head?
KRISTIN: I don’t think that, no, Sarah.
SARAH: Let’s get her medical attention! … Later. Later.
There were several other awesome editors involved in the auction. (I can only imagine a lot of brilliant people had head injuries that week.) I was playing it cool, though, ninja that I am.
KRISTIN: All right, before we talk to Mallory, here are a few things about her you should know-
SARAH: Oh, I know her. I mean, a little. I mean, we hung out. I mean, she’s seen me in my underwear.
KRISTIN: SHE HAS WHAT!!!
KRISTIN: … None of my other authors do this, you know. None of them…
KRISTIN: They don’t write secret books, either.
SARAH: I promise to be good from now on.
KRISTIN: Okay, Sarah. I will trust you. Time to have a phone call with Mallory! Sarah, tone it down, okay? Let’s be chill.
MALLORY: Hi Kristin! Hi Sarah!
SARAH: HEY MALLORY HEY! ARE WE IN A REFRIGERATOR BECAUSE SUDDENLY IT’S SO COOL IN HERE.
Sometimes my agent has to lie down and put a cool cloth on her face and murmur things about secret books.
So, Sirens is where I was secretly super unhappy thinking nobody would ever read another of my books after Demon’s Surrender. It is where I let slip the secret of Team Human, and it where I met the editor of Unspoken.
And now I am off to give a speech about women who love vampires who eat women with my lovely colleague! I am almost excited for this as I am for people to read the new books.
I am bringing my bathing suit this time.