Meet Me in Another Life has an audiobook!
First, a confession: I am not an audiobook listener.
It's not because I don't think audiobooks count as real reading, or any of that nonsense that surfaces in the internet discourse from time to time. It's because, for whatever reason, my auditory attention span is terrible. If I don't actively concentrate every second I'm listening to an audiobook or a podcast, my thoughts tend to drift, and by the time I tune back in, I've missed a crucial plot point or a key piece of dialogue.
In the case of my own book, I know the plot and most of the dialogue off by heart, so at least that's not a problem. But on the flip side, there's the factor of being massively self-conscious at the prospect of listening to my own writing -- particularly now, when the book is out, and if I spot any mistakes I missed, it's too late to fix! (I only noticed one instance of a repeated word I should have caught in the proofread. Answers on a postcard if you spot it.)
But the audiobook of Meet Me in Another Life blew me away. Within a few sentences, I'd forgotten I was listening to a story I'd written, and it was all down to Kristin Atherton's incredible narration. She made me notice so many things: images that repeat and change over time, most of which I had no conscious idea about; ways the characters echo each other across chapters, beyond those I intended or was aware of. And speaking of the characters, she makes them live. I felt like I met them all anew, especially Thora and Santi, who I thought I knew so well already. I'm still processing all the nuances she gets across: how their state of mind changes from chapter to chapter, how they become weary and wise and angry and serene over the course of their many lives. I actually felt bereft and had a bit of a book hangover after I'd finished, which is genuinely insane as the book in question is something I made up in my head. But it is a testament to Kristin's amazing and possibly supernatural powers. I feel like audiobook listeners are going to come away thinking my book is much better than it is, because her performance elevates it so much. And I've already seen some reactions on Twitter suggesting as much.
Here's a snippet (taken from the first chapter) to show you what I mean:
The audiobook is available now in North America; in the UK, it will be released along with the hardback and e-book on 8th July, but you can preorder it or request it from Netgalley in the meantime if you choose. As for me, I'm off to find more audiobooks to listen to.
OUT NOW in North America!
Three years since I started writing the book, and a year and a half after it sold, Meet Me in Another Life is officially out in the US and Canada! It feels weird and amazing and nerve-wracking and very far away -- after the past year, it's sometimes hard to believe other cities exist, let alone other countries. I spent the weekend listening to my character playlists for Thora and Santi and signing tip-in sheets for the upcoming UK special editions (my name has long since lost all meaning and become a series of squiggles -- let's hope it looks more writerly that way).
I wanted to round up a few things that have meant a lot to me in the run-up to this day:
- Meet Me in Another Life was selected as an Indie Next pick for May! The list is compiled from the recommendations of independent booksellers, so it was a huge honour to be included (not to mention seeing my book next to Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon, which I can't wait to read). I loved visiting indies when I lived in Chicago (57th Street Books was my local; A Room of One's Own in Madison was another favourite). If you're in the US, why not order the book from Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs, whose recommendation helped land it on the list?
- I wrote an article for Tor about characters with ever-changing relationships. I love Tor -- I'm a regular reader of their content, so it was a dream come true to get to write for them. Plus the research for the article involved reading/re-reading some amazing books.
- Meet Me in Another Life was included in this Mashable round-up, '9 ways to live your life multiple times'. I loved seeing the book put in context with the many other works that have used this trope. The article does a great job of outlining what makes all the featured books so different despite their similar premise.
- It's been amazing to see reactions from early readers -- thank you so much to anyone who has let me know on Twitter or elsewhere that you enjoyed the book. I am very bad at accepting compliments, but I promise it really means a lot.
All in all, I feel very lucky to have got this far, and I'm excited to see what comes next. So: be brave, little book. I hope you find your people.
This weekend is ConFusion, the virtual 2021 edition of Eastercon (the British National Science Fiction Convention). I'll be on the following panels:
Sat 3rd April, 12 midday: Influences beyond the literary canon. Our panel chat about their biggest influences beyond favourite authors; from cartoons to games to tv shows and beyond.
Mon 5th April, 12 midday: Storytelling through repetition. Time loops, time travel, and replaying games: how narratives are built by repeating actions & discovering new elements - including building relationships, and positive queer depictions.
I'll also be doing a reading of an excerpt from Meet Me in Another Life - this is scheduled for 7pm on Fri 2nd April. You can see all the events I'm involved in here.
UK cover and advance copies
Last week was the cover reveal for the UK edition of Meet Me in Another Life. My publisher pulled out all the stops for this one!
On Monday, cryptic messages started showing up across Twitter. (I'm not cool enough to be on Instagram, but I'm told they were showing up there too.) If you spotted them, you might be wondering what they meant. The answer is: they are chapter titles from the book, each corresponding to a graffiti message written on the wall of a certain ruined clock tower. (The wall writing concept also shows up in a different form on the gorgeous US cover, designed by Mumtaz Mustafa.) I've linked to the messages above in the order the corresponding chapters appear in the book. If you've read the first chapter, you might have recognised Welcome to Forever...
Then, at midday on Tuesday was the cover reveal. A beautiful animation showed the UK proof transforming into the final cover, designed by Micaela Alcaino. Among her other amazing work, she is the genius behind the dreamlike, trippy cover for Vita Nostra by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko, one of my favourite books (and covers) of recent years. I tend to describe it as "if Harry Potter was written by Kafka and set at a Russian technical college", which has been surprisingly effective at getting people to read it.
Anyway, I digress. Thanks so much to Abbie and Katy from HarperFiction, and to all the wonderful book bloggers who got involved in the cover reveal - it was amazing to see so many people responding who love the cover as much as I do.
I feel incredibly lucky to have two covers that suit the book so well in such different ways. It's been interesting to learn a little about the factors that go into cover design: from genre, to trends in specific markets, to the intersection of the two. A particular style of cover might say "romance" or "YA" in the US market, but communicate something completely different in the UK (or vice versa). Complicating this still further is the fact that the book is a bit of an odd duck that falls between genres. I've been heartened to see early reviews that appreciate this as a positive, but it can be tricky, too: if a reader feels they have been promised romance or sci-fi or mystery or literary fiction, and then gets something that doesn't quite fit in any of those boxes, you can't really blame them for being disappointed. I hope both covers will help the book to find readers who are looking for something a bit different.
The other big news is that UK advance copies (featuring a variation on the cover and a truly epic amount of gold foil) have been making their way to booksellers, bloggers, and recently, my house. I wanted to take another picture with my cat, but these books are genuinely so shiny they freaked her out and she ran away. I mean, look:
Seeing this proof circulating was a big moment for me. It was both exciting and terrifying to see, emblazoned on the cover of a Real Book, the names of these two people I made up in my head. I can't wait for you all to meet them.
Meet Me in Another Life
MEET ME IN ANOTHER LIFE comes out next year! Publication day is April 27th in the US and Canada, 8th July in the UK and the rest of the Commonwealth. I've updated the Books page with blurbs, preorder links for both editions, and the starry starry US cover. The UK cover is also stunning, but still under wraps at this point -- watch this space. In the meantime, you can read an excerpt from the book if you so choose.
US advance copies are not only being sat on by my cat, they are also out there in the world and starting to get some good reactions on Twitter and Goodreads! If you're based in the US and would like an advance copy, my publisher William Morrow is running a series of Goodreads giveaways -- the current one is open until December 21st. If you miss that one, there will be a couple more running in January and February. More news on UK advance copies coming next year.
Another semi-recent happening was that I took part in a panel discussing one of my favourite films, Arrival. The event was part of the Imagining Better Futures series, organised by University College London to welcome new Arts and Humanities students. I really enjoyed this event -- I got to wear both my linguist and my author hats, and it was great fun talking about everything from language-trained chimps to fate versus free will.
The freezing fog is drawing in here in Cambridge, and it's starting to feel like this year may actually be coming to an end. May the next one bring good things for you and yours.