Finding North: November 2022
Issue No. 3: A return to travel, and filling the well 🗽
Note: The recording above is a reading of this newsletter — there’s no different content, and it’s not produced, so you’ll hear the occasional stumble, or sounds of daily life in the background. If you’re someone who needs or prefers to hear their news, then I hope it’s helpful.
Hi, my friends.
The last month has been marked by a return to old haunts, and old friends. To pieces of me I’ve badly missed over the last few years.
Though we’ve all changed since last we met, it’s felt wonderful to pick up these pieces and people and places once more, and fit them back in around my heart. I’ve been thinking a lot about the way places and experiences shape us.
This letter is about my recent travels, mostly — I’m writing to you a little late, because I’m freshly back from New York and Los Angeles, where I’ve been meeting up with my publishing team for The Isles of the Gods, as well as my agents, many author friends, and my co-author/writing wife, Meg Spooner.
What I’ve Been Up To
My trip started in LA, where I caught up with author friends, screenwriter friends, and video game writing friends — did you know I’ve worked in all these areas? It felt like drinking cool water, getting to spend time talking about the stories and projects they’re working on, hearing about what’s been inspiring them, and what they’re planning next. It felt like returning to a part of my authorly self, after a few years away.
I stayed with Marie Lu, who’s one of my dearest friends, as well as one of my favourite authors. When we weren’t busy catching up or eating delicious food (she made me a seafood pasta I’m still thinking about), she gave me the most generous interview as part of my PhD studies. I’ll be talking more about my thesis over the next couple of years, but this interview? Marie was so open-hearted and honest that I had to work hard to remain a neutral interviewer, when tears were threatening.
Then came New York, where I reunited with Meg Spooner — for new subscribers, Meg was my co-author on These Broken Stars, Unearthed and The Other Side of the Sky, and all their sequels. She’s also an adopted part of my family, and has lived with us in Australia several times over the years. More below on what Meg and I got up to, under the What I’m Writing header…
The time in New York was also an opportunity to catch up with my publishing teams — to have long chats with my editors, to plot with publicists, and to geek out over Star Trek with my audio producer, who’s already planning wonderful stuff for The Isles of the Gods. We talked about pre-order plans, about tour, and all kinds of things I’ll get to reveal to you over the coming months.
The time in New York was a chance to fill my well — Meg and I saw Six the Musical, ranged the galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, saw an exhibit on the drafting of The Little Prince at the Morgan, and took long, slow walks through Central Park.
Over the last few years, I’ve felt as if I’ve used up every drop of inspiration in my well, continuing to write and create through lockdowns. Now, it feels like I’m pouring water back in again, and the difference is startling — the glee I feel, when I contemplate the projects I’ll share with you over the next few months and years! My stories have always been my solace, but as I come back into the world, they feel like my joy again, as well.
What I’m Writing
I took advantage of being in New York with Meg to work on our next book together. There was lots of going for long walks, daydreaming, outlining, and clutching at each other whenever we had a new idea. Outlining together in person is so much easier than doing it over Zoom — within minutes of getting to work in the same room, we had a whole new twist for our finale!
You won’t see this particular book until 2024, so I won’t talk about it again for quite a while… but here’s a sneak peak of us doing some extremely relevant research while we were together. I’m not sharing it anywhere else, so keep it to yourselves, newsletter friends!
What I’ve Loved Lately
Since I’ve been on the road, I thought this month I’d share my favourite travel item. Pre-pandemic I spent up to three months every year on tour or away from home, so I’ve got packing and travel accessories down to a fine art.
My won’t-leave-home-without-it item is a travel yoga mat — and not because I am a devoted yoga practitioner! They’re so incredibly thin that you can fold them up and pop them in your suitcase, and I always have one with me even though I only travel with carry-on. They’re that small!
Whether you’re devoted to your morning sun salutations (I am not) or you just find that hours spent on planes and in new environments leaves you all curled up like a question mark, and stretching feels good (this is me), a mat like this means you can really stretch and unwind your body without risking gross hotel carpet. Mine is a Manduka (I borrowed this picture from their website) but there are lots of brands out there.
When I arrive in a new place, I spread it out on the carpet, put an audiobook on speaker on my phone, and spend a while just slowly stretching and resetting my body. It’s a part of my routine, and it slows my thinking and breathing, takes away the stress of being in new places, unknots my muscles and helps me sleep.
They’re not the cheapest, but they’re not outrageous, either — if you travel, perhaps it’s something you could put on your wish list for holiday gifts.
News and Updates
A few recent podcast episodes you might enjoy! If you follow my Pub Dates podcast, then you’ll love our Who’s Who in the Zoo episode, where Gillian Levinson, Director of Paperbacks & Publishing at Random House Children’s Books, takes us backstage to meet the teams who help a book along the road to publication.
If you’re an Amie Kaufman on Writing listener, you’ll love Writing Ensemble Casts with M.K. England, in which guest author M.K. England gives us a blast of pure genius, with practical steps to help writers nail down how their cast should work.
I’ll be back in your inbox in just a week or two, ready to share the final cover for The Isles of the Gods, and I can’t wait! Until then, farewell!