Back in mid-August 2015, Angry Robot sent me a gorgeous final cover for the second book in the Missy Masters series (in my head it will always be ‘The Adventures of Mr. Mystic’ but Missy Masters is easier for sales databases and stuff). The Qwillery did a lovely cover-reveal post. I put up the cover as my desktop wallpaper.
I failed to actually write an announcement post about the cover.
See, it was such a great cover… it felt entirely wrong to write a post about it when I didn’t have a great book to go inside. Or any book! Mid-August, I was mired in a stressful new role at my job and kicking my own ass trying to meet somewhat impossible expectations for a platform release. I wasn’t writing, wasn’t even thinking about the book. And as much as I loved the cover, it hovered before me like Marley’s ghost. I didn’t have anything worthy of going inside. Shit. I barely had anything.
I forced myself to work through the stress of the job, a job change, and the loss of my grandmother. That fantastic cover became both carrot—I can do this!—and condemnation—why haven’t you done this yet?! The folks at Angry Robot were amazingly patient and extended my deadline several times.
I finished in December, started in on revisions, and realized I hated the book I’d written. Like, really hated it. Not authorial nerves. I could list all the specific elements that made it a celebration of cultural reductionism and appropriation at their absolute worst. It wasn’t just bad. It was something I would have been ashamed to put out into the world. I’d written the book from a bad place, and I got a bad book in return.
Did I mention how amazing and patient the folks at Angry Robot are? I should mention it again, because when I laid out that list and told them I was gutting the book and more or less starting from scratch, they agreed to push back the publication date so that I could maintain my artistic and ethical integrity.
Last night I turned in the final manuscript of the new and improved The Conclave of Shadow. I now have a book that I think maybe isn’t all that bad to go behind that awesome cover. And now that it has something inside, I feel like it’s an appropriate time for me to do the cover reveal. Here it is! Isn’t it pretty?
As for what’s inside, here’s the new teaser copy (with many thanks to Marie Brennan for her assistance refining it):
The line between enemy and ally is thinner than a shadow’s edge.
Ever since she saved the spirit guardians of China by selling out to her worst enemy, Missy Masters — a.k.a. the pulp hero Mr. Mystic — has been laying low. But when knights serving the Conclave of Shadow steal secret technology from a museum exhibit on the Argent Aces, everyone looks to Mr. Mystic for help. If Missy doesn’t want her masquerade blown, she’d better track down the thieves, and fast.
But stolen tech turns out to be the least of her problems. Recent events have upset the balance of power in the Shadow Realms, removing the barriers that once held the ravenous Voidlands in check. Their spread threatens destruction in the mortal realm as well… and only the Conclave stands ready to push them back.
In a world of shadow, telling friends from enemies is easier said than done. But if she wants to save San Francisco, Missy will have to decide who to trust. Including her own instincts, which tell her that something is stalking her with murder in mind…