My short bio: Hello Reddit! I'm Cat Valente, F/SF author of many books and short stories for adults and children, including the Fairyland series, the third volume of which, The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon In Two, came out on October 1st.

I've been a full time writer for nine years now. My novels for adults include Deathless, Palimpsest, The Orphan's Tales series, Silently and Very Fast, Six Gun Snow White, and The Habitation of the Blessed. I've won the Hugo, Tiptree, Mythopoeic, Lambda, Andre Norton, and Locus Awards and been nominated for the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards as well.

In short: I write dark, thorny, literary fantasy rooted in myth, folklore, and fairy tales, and darker science fiction, some of which you can give to your kids and some of which you can't.

I'm also a longtime Redditor (not under this username, sorry!) so I'm super excited to finally get to do an AMA! Please feel free to fire away on any topic, whether related to my books or out of left field. The first book in the Fairyland series, The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, started as a serial novel posted on my website and made the long journey to traditional publication--and I'm happy to talk about changing trends in Bookworld and my experiences in both independent publishing and with presses big and small. I've done it all.

I also have too many animals, (in fact, my most recent cat, a Maine Coon named Lord Byron, arrived a year ago today), am an avid gamer, and live on a small island off the coast of Maine--and yes, it's haunted. I write my novels in an off-season umbrella museum, I sail, cook like a fiend, knit, spin yarn, play the accordion incredibly poorly, travel constantly, blog, have a degree in Classics that I use nearly every day, have lost 100 pounds in the last two years, and am typing all this in the midst of a maelstrom of Halloween planning and decorating. So many pumpkins. So many.

All of these things and anything else you can think of is fair game. I'll answer questions from 3-5pm EST. Happy Halloween!

EDIT: Ok, that's all, folks! Thank you so much for all the questions, this was awesomely fun. Until next time, Gadget!

My Proof:

Comments: 165 • Responses: 67  • Date: 

Lloth10 karma

Hi Cat! Two questions! Is there any update on Prester John, I know you're still writing September's story but I was just curious if you plan on finishing John's story. My second question is what BPAL are you currently into? Thanks for this AMA, I'm coming out of reddit exile for it :)

CatherynneMValente8 karma

Absolutely, Prester John will be finished. I wouldn't leave you guys hanging! The current plan is to Kickstarter the final book in the series early next year.

I was crazy into BPAL for a long time, then I stopped having enough money to be crazy into anything, and then when I did have a play budget again I started basically getting the Halloween scents I liked, and an occasional Yule one and cooling it with my obsessive collecting tendencies. Anything that smells like pumpkin spice or fruit or candy or chocolate or apple I tend to snap up.

thatbeme9 karma

What do you look for in a reader?

CatherynneMValente18 karma

What a cool question! Someone who is patient and open to weirdness and won't get fed up because I used a three syllable word. Someone who is a Reader--who has read a lot of other things in a wide variety of fields. Someone who wants to be changed by books, who is passionate about stories.

Umberto Eco once said that he spends the first 100 pages of any of his books teaching the reader to read the rest of the novel. I've always liked that thought. Every book you read wants to teach you to be the kind of reader who reads that book.

I look for readers who read like I do--with appetite and ardor.

dreamsofwinter8 karma

Which fairy tale would you like to see subverted or retold?

CatherynneMValente7 karma

Well, they all get retold--that's why they're fairy tales.

I'd like to see more non-Western stories out there.

giftartthrowaway7 karma

I did an illustration based on The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland for my children's illustration class, and I always wanted to share it with you.

CatherynneMValente4 karma

That is so wonderful! I love it! Thank you for showing me!

GeneralBattuta5 karma

You line your prose with very precise, tiled sensory images. What's your process for building one image - opening your nearest book to a random page, 'the candles of his eyes dripped tears of tallow'. Do you pre-create images and fit them in as you work, drawing from a notepad or pool? Is writing an image totally spontaneous - 'I'm here, okay, that works, move on' - or do you tend to stop and ponder? How often in your day to day life do you stop and say 'wow, this textile or scent or spice would fit so well?'

I suspect this might be one of those 'all of the above' questions, especially because this kind of micro-level process is so hard to articulate.

What do you think of semicolons, plain ol' colons, and dashes in sentence structure? How consciously do you plan out the scansion of your sentences and the rhythm your sentence structures across a page? It's always seemed to me that you execute style really well on this level, but I don't know if it's intuitive or deliberative for you.

CatherynneMValente3 karma

I am a slave to the dash--oh, how I love it.

Honestly, it's all very intuitive. I read most of my work out loud so I can fix rhythm when I hear it but really it all just comes out that way. That is how my brain works. Everything goes in and the stuff you read comes out. I don't remember ever consciously crafting the image you give as an example--I just wrote it down as I moved through the story because it felt right. I know that's not a terribly satisfying answer, but there it is.

Cdiddles5 karma

Hi Catherynne, this is a super important question. What is your first thought when you get out of bed?

CatherynneMValente6 karma

No no no no no no no. (Actual thoughts, verbatim. Sometimes vocalized.)

I hate mornings and reject them.

Cdiddles1 karma

I supposed you do most of your work at night.

CatherynneMValente6 karma

In recent years I've tried to get on a more normal 9-5 schedule so that I can see and interact with other humans. But I still can't talk my brain into thinking it's more hardcore to wake up at 6 than to stay up til 4.

LadyFrenzy5 karma

What is your preferred listening material during the day?

CatherynneMValente10 karma

I usually have a special playlist for the particular novel I'm working on. I listen to a lot of acoustic music with good lyrics--I like the serendipity of a word or a line breaking through my concentration at an elegant moment. I can't listen to anything to aggressive while I work or I get distracted. One of my big comfort listening albums is the FFVIII soundtrack.

stille5 karma

I've noticed you've been blogging far less in the past few years. What happened, if I may ask?

Also, Palimpsest was amazing Thank you for a gorgeous, gorgeous book.

CatherynneMValente5 karma

Life, she has gotten complicated. And I've been touring nearly nonstop since Fairyland blew up, as well as producing a new book in the series every year and keeping up with my adult books and short fiction. I've just fallen behind. I have ever intention of reviving the blog in the next few weeks though! I won't be touring for the fourth Fairyland novel so I have some breathing room.

I'm still active as ever on Twitter, though!

a_tay12204 karma

How do you feel about the way female characters are portrayed on fantasy and sci-fi book covers?

CatherynneMValente4 karma

Depends on the cover. I've been incredibly lucky and had wonderful covers nearly across the board. But I've seen terrible ones, too. And not just on F/SF books. Women's bodies are often considered sentience-free props and that's an issue everywhere. F/SF has a long history of embarrassing covers and I'm glad it's at least something we occasionally talk about now instead of just glossing over the latest naked girl on her knees cover.

I think Jim Hines' post about urban fantasy covers about sums it up.

321crayonsarefun4 karma

Hi! My friend introduced me to your writing--which I absolutely adore by the way. I have two questions: Where does your inspiration come from? and What advice would you give to people who aspire to be published? (I would say authors, but you don't become an author. Frankly, you are born one.)

Oh, and I just wanted to say that the passage about women's makeup being our "war paint" in Deathless was really awesome. You have some very interesting points!

CatherynneMValente6 karma

I don't think we're born anything. We can become whatever our desire and environment make us.

My recommendation is to read constantly. Read everything. Read things you aren't even interested in. If you don't read, you will never be able to write--and if you're not interested in reading, why would you expect others to read you? You have to be part of the conversation--the listening as well as the speaking.

chemicool4 karma

Thanks for the AMA! I am currently reading the third fairyland book and Palimpsest is one of my favorite novels.

My question: What cultures currently have rich yet under-plundered mythology/folklore in fantasy writing today?

CatherynneMValente3 karma

I think plundered is a tough term there as a lot of cultures have actually been plundered by colonial cultures over the centuries.

There's power to be found everywhere. It definitely behooves everyone too look beyond Grimm.

stille4 karma

Also, am I correct in reading September as not white?

CatherynneMValente3 karma

Yes. September is multi-racial.

Balinares4 karma

Whoo, I made it home in time! Hi Cat! If you could totally steal someone's writing style and general ability, whose would it be, if anyone?

CatherynneMValente4 karma

John Crowley, circa Little, Big.

Balinares2 karma

Aaaand that's a new wishlist item. Thanks for the pointer! :)

CatherynneMValente3 karma

It's my favorite novel. Full stop.

megazver4 karma

Which award do you prefer to gleefully lord over your peers the most? Is there a difference in the taste of their tears depending on the award?

CatherynneMValente6 karma

Aw, that's not how I roll. Awards are like lightning; they fall from the sky and there's little you can do beyond writing the best thing you can to attract them. I'm always just ridiculously happy to be fried to a crisp.

custardfairy4 karma

You once told me that your writing process is kinetic. Could you describe what that means?

CatherynneMValente6 karma

I can't do the dictation thing at all. Writing is a physical activity for me--it lives in my hands. Typing as much part of the process for me as chapters or dialogue. (Though I do tend to brainstorm longhand in the early stages of a book.)

razahtlab3 karma


A few big names are saying (low priced) ebooks are destroying the book industry - What are your thoughts on epublishing?

CatherynneMValente8 karma

epublishing itself is merely a tool, like print publishing. It is neither good nor bad--it is just a way of getting stories read. I am concerned at how much the conversation is about ebooks and not about books. A fifth grader at a school recently asked me about becoming a writer and when I started to answer he said "No, no, I mean what do you do for sponsors?"

For him, writing meant kickstarter and money and incentives. Not stories.

I think we are heading toward a confrontation over pricing of every media--Peak Content, if you will. Content providers, be they musicians, filmmakers, performers, writers, are increasingly expected to provide something for nothing and at very high quality. I don't think that can last forever, but it's not about epublishing, it's about the culture of content and how we do and do not value it. If we are unwilling to spend the price of a mocha on a book or an album, we have far bigger problems than format.

Degausseridae3 karma

As someone who began writing only recently, I often wonder how to best split my time between reading and writing. How much time do you spend reading versus writing, and how has that changed over the course of your career?

CatherynneMValente4 karma

The sad truth is that I get far less time to read than I'd like, especially after becoming a full time author. I'd say I read between 25-40 books a year depending on the year.

But I start vastly more than that. I don't feel I can count a book if I didn't finish it. But I am more willing to not finish a book if it doesn't grab me than I was when I was younger and would plow through anything.

I am always happier when I am reading voraciously. If you're reading and writing in happy measures, you've probably got it right.

scarletsaint3 karma

Hi Cat. I came to your books via the music by S.J. Tucker. I just wanted to say, I think you are possibly one of the best storytellers I have ever read!

Generic question you probably get a lot. Where do you find the inspiration for your characters?

CatherynneMValente6 karma

Thank you so much!

Inspiration is everywhere--really. Inspiration is easy. I hear a dozen conversations on the ferry, on the street, at a convention that spark ideas in my head. My characters are always a little of me, a little of everyone I've ever met, and a little themselves.

iamarobotb3 karma

If you could have a fantastical creature as a pet, which would it be?

CatherynneMValente7 karma

A Wyverary.

noocemiller3 karma

How do you develop your characters? Do you do a lot of planning? Or do they evolve while you write? Have you ever had a character go bad on you while you're writing him/her? That's probably too many questions in one go. I'm another Prester John fan, by the way.

CatherynneMValente5 karma

Yay, Prester John fans! It's heartwarming to see you guys here.

The major characters tend to live in my head for awhile before they come out--but I don't do a lot of formal planning. I certainly feel like I know them by the time I start the novel itself. But then some surprise me, like Saturday from the Fairyland series, who came out of the blue. (So to speak.)

linguana3 karma

Hey Cat. Needless to say, I adore your books (Fairyland #3 made me cry so hard).

Can you already tell us something (better: everything!) about the Deathless companion novel? And also, is there any way to get your Novel in Pieces, The Ice Puzzle?

CatherynneMValente8 karma

The Ice Puzzle will be coming out in print form next year!

The Deathless companion novel is a retelling of Ivan and the Firebird set during the children's evacuation of Leningrad.

intemperatevulgarity3 karma

What's your favourite go-to recipe when you can't think of what to make for lunch?

CatherynneMValente7 karma

Not eating! Because I am terrible!

But actually when I can't think of what to make for lunch--during which time I'm usually working anyway---it's all about Trader Joe's Butter Chicken frozen meals. I've never found another microwave lunch that tastes half as good as TJ's indian line.

intemperatevulgarity1 karma

Thanks for the tip! Don't know if we have Trader Joe's in the UK but I'll look out for it :)

CatherynneMValente3 karma

Sadly, you do not. (I was just explaining last night that I've always had Trader Joe's in my life except when I lived in the UK, Japan, and that terrible, dark two years before Portland, ME got one.)

intemperatevulgarity1 karma

Alas! Speaking of the UK, do you ever tour or attend cons over here (e.g. next year's Loncon)?

CatherynneMValente3 karma

I will be at Loncon next year! I toured a little in the UK last year and hope to again soon.

custardfairy3 karma

And also, your aesthetic is incredibly opulent in terms of descriptive language and world-building, to the point where I often have to stop and "digest" a little before I can continue (which I love). I feel like I'm stepping into a magnificent, moving painting that is part baroque, part surreal, and part something else entirely, even though your books are very different in terms of plot. Why does that particular style appeal to you?

CatherynneMValente6 karma

I'm not even sure it's fair to say it appeals to me so much as it is me. My brain works like that. It's what the inside of me looks like. It's an incredible amount of work for me not to write the way I do. So really, I'm just being lazy with all that opulence. ;)

Johnicholas3 karma

Have you ever rewritten a short story, expanding it into a novel? If yes, which? If no, would you in the future?

CatherynneMValente7 karma

Yes! Palimpsest began as a short story, and my newest adult novel, Radiance, which will come out from Tor next year, began as The Radiant Car Thy Sparrows Drew, a short story on Clarkesworld.

PurpleshinyRiv3 karma

I am so excited for Radiance :D I know the Fairyland books are very popular and lovely, but I definitely (selfishly) prefer non-YA books for me to read :)

CatherynneMValente6 karma

I'll always write both.

megazver3 karma

How annoying will it be for me to read Deathless if I'm actually Russian?

CatherynneMValente5 karma

I don't know! I am married to a Russian who was not annoyed by it. Many Russians have told me they loved it and thought I got a lot of things right. But it's not for me to say. I tried my best to do well by a culture that is not my own. That's all you can do, to work with love and respect. Maybe I fucked it up. Maybe I didn't. I can't be the one to make that judgement, though. It's up to you how successful or not I was.

Gumby_Hitler3 karma

How did you get your start in professional writing? Your big break, so to speak.

CatherynneMValente9 karma

I wrote my first novel, The Labyrinth, when I was 22. And I knew no one would publish it. I didn't bother with New York presses. I submitted it to a few small indie places and was rejected--and then got wrapped up in graduate school and deciding that no one loved my books.

I had been blogging on Livejournal for awhile when I read a post by Nick Mamatas, a wonderful author whose first book had just come out. I asked him where I should submit a weird surrealist novel--and emphasized that I wasn't asking him to read any chapters or anything. Nevertheless, Nick is kind and offered to look at my book and send it on to his publisher if he liked it, which I did and he did. Prime Books bought The Labyrinth within a week.

My second big break, and possibly bigger in the scheme of things, was when I turned in an early draft of The Orphan's Tales to Prime. My editor noted that it was far more commercial than what I'd been doing to date and sent it to a friend of his at Bantam Spectra. Bantam took 18 months to get back to me, but they made me an offer, I got an agent, and the rest is my breakneck life for the last eight years.

belalugosiscats3 karma

Do you try to write every day? How many pages?

CatherynneMValente8 karma

I do try. It doesn't always work out, because life has this nasty tendency to happen all the time.

I don't think in pages--you get out of that habit fast when you start publishing. I think in terms of wordcount. So I aim for between 2000-4000 words a day when I have a project due.

whateverwillbe3 karma

The entire time I was reading Fade to White I kept thinking about how cool it would be as a short film (or even a full-length film!) Disregarding the probability of it happening for any particular piece of work, is there anything of yours that you'd like to see adapted for television or film?

CatherynneMValente7 karma

Of course I'd love to see anything of mine made into a movie--mainly because I'm such a movie freak that I'd probably die of screaming like a Beatles girl before the title card faded out. Authors don't have much control over what does or doesn't get made, sadly. But I'd love to see a Fairyland movie, obviously. I think Deathless would be amazing onscreen as well.

And in general I'd love to see more short stories made into films, either short form or otherwise. They're a rich vein and often a perfect size for film.

itaintdatbad3 karma

I love your work in the dark fantasy genre! I was curious if you had any suggestions/favorite authors that you could suggest.

CatherynneMValente10 karma

Shirley Jackson, Hope Mirlees, China Mieville, Christopher Barzak, John Crowley, Theodora Goss, Kelly Link, Charles Yu, Nnedi Okorafor, Genevieve Valentine, Diane Wakoski.

navinxratx19783 karma

what is the most disturbing book you've read?

CatherynneMValente9 karma

The one that leaps immediately to mind is We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, in part because the narrator is so disturbed and you live with her for the length of the story, in her head, and partly because of the ending, which is wonderful and upsetting at once.

But I did read like three Jack Ketchum books back to back last year and felt as though I'd never be cheerful again.

StopAllTheClocks3 karma

What are some of your recent notable reads or recommendations? (novels and/or short stories, but I'm especially interested in short stories)

CatherynneMValente5 karma

2312 and Railsea were my favorite novels of last year, and though published ages ago, I read Engine Summer last year for the first time and adored it.

stille3 karma

Oh, and you've mentioned once a possible kickstarted translation of Antigone. Any chance that'll still happen?

CatherynneMValente5 karma

Anything is possible! I think, yes, one day.

phlegmatichumour3 karma

I just read Oracles a few days ago at the library and I want to thank you for that experience. It was beautiful and striking.

What's your favorite fairy tale?

What's the best halloween costume you've ever had?

CatherynneMValente6 karma

Snow White is easily my favorite fairy tale. I keep coming back to it, over and over.

I was Liberty Leading the People from the Delacroix painting when I was 19--given the level of nudity in it, I think it was at least the bravest I've done! (I wore a bodysuit as I had to go to class.)

Frajer3 karma

How is cat Lord Byron like human Lord Byron?

CatherynneMValente7 karma

He's definitely mad, bad and dangerous to know. Especially if you are an object sitting on a table. Or a couch. Or a window sill. Or a counter. Lord Byron loves him some destruction, which often takes the form of knocking things off other things. It is his hobby.

His also hugely and somewhat indiscriminately affectionate and my chest is his comfort blanket.

He also loves to cuddle October, our other cat, even though she is less impressed with that, meaning that I get to say rather often: "Byron! Quit molesting your sister!"

danbensen3 karma

Japanese questions! What part of Japanese history/mythology do you want to address in your fiction? Does Prestor John ever intersect with Japan?

CatherynneMValente4 karma

Prester John will intersect strongly with China in the third book, but not Japan.

I lived in Japan for two years and a huge portion of my writing deals with it either directly or indirectly. The yokai are certainly my favorite folklore to write about. If you're interested in getting a big dose at once, I had a collection of my Japanese writing come out this year called The Melancholy of Mechagirl.

nancylebov3 karma

Getting the third Prester John novel is enough in itself, but is there any hope of also getting the same cover artist?

CatherynneMValente5 karma

There is! All of that is in the works but I contacted her early and I'll be making every effort to have the books all match.

Kira19903 karma

Do you have a graphic novel in the making? I'd love to see the babies of your writing and breathtaking art.

CatherynneMValente4 karma

I'd love to do one but have not had the opportunity yet.

Kasisk3 karma

Do you consider yourself a spiritual person? I'd love to know more about your beliefs.

CatherynneMValente7 karma

My father is Christian Scientist (not Scientologist, it's different, but still fraught) and my mother is Roman Catholic, though she has tried nearly everything else over the years. I am neither. I often joke that I'm a non-practicing agnostic. My work deals in mythology--which is another way of saying gods that don't get many shifts these days. I can't say that I don't believe in more in heaven and earth and I can't say that I do. I have no idea how the universe runs itself. Part physics, part wonder, I suppose. I am fascinated by the history of religion and I have been shaped enormously by the religions that have been present in my life. But the nature of the big question is that it doesn't have an answer.

It'd be nice if we could quit arguing about it until everyone's miserable, though.

vogrez3 karma

Hello Cat!

As a writer-gamer, how do you feel about the low quality (exceptions aside) of video game writing? Is it the industry unwelcoming to literary authors or writers wary of the medium \ gamer community?

CatherynneMValente8 karma

I get so excited when there's good writing in a game. I wish more game companies would reach out to the literary community--some amazing collaborations could happen. But I think in any medium where so much of the wow factor is in graphics and gameplay, the writing will often take a backseat and let those pyrotechnics do the narrative heavy lifting.

As gaming develops as an art form, I fervently hope, as a player and a writer, that the writing is allowed to develop with it.

indeeds3 karma

What scares you?

CatherynneMValente16 karma

Easy answer? Spiders. Yeah, yeah, cliche, but I seriously lose my dignity in the presence of any spider...or insect.

More serious answer? Going back. Both personally and societally. Having progress revoked--having to return to a situation that was less free, less kind, less private, where less was allowed. Returning to the past isn't, for me, a dream to keep me warm at night. It's a nightmare. The 50s were awful for women, POC, queer folk of all types, for personal agency in general. And I've certainly had a "50s" of my own life, where everything seemed fine, but all the smiles were forced and I had no ability to determine my own fate. Tumbling backward is my biggest fear, on both macro and micro levels.

thatsirfox2 karma

Hi! Just one question for you, if you've the time. What do you do when your ideas prove to be ... elusive?

CatherynneMValente3 karma


I try to work on another project or take a step away and go do something else, remove my brain from the book til it starts behaving itself.

johnrgrace2 karma

Do you still have fan girl moments when meeting other creative professionals? Would you share any names?

CatherynneMValente2 karma

Oh absolutely. I'm still trying to find a way to meet Susan Cooper, who is my hero forever and the author of one of my favorite books, Seaward. I try to keep it together when I meet people whose books have meant something to me but it doesn't usually work. I sort of wriggle and squeak.

But one of the best things about being a writer is that your co-workers are sometimes your heroes, and every once in awhile you get to say hi.

GeneralBattuta2 karma

Hey Cat! You're a huge inspiration and prose master. Can you talk a little about the way you deploy politics in your work? Mythology has always been political, a way to create narratives - how do you want to bend and subvert that?

CatherynneMValente8 karma

As the old ones say, the personal is political.

All writing is political. Writing about straight white men doing manly things as defined by Western culture is deeply political. My writing at all as a woman, a young woman, a queer woman--that is political. Writing the stories that are important to me involves politics because we are political animals and some stories are still more ok than others. I don't have an agenda or a mission statement--except to say what I find to be true, which is everyone's agenda. It's just that what I find to be true often gets written off by tagging an -ist to the end of it, because the idea that something is apolitical if it focuses on the default human in the culture that generates it is incredibly pervasive.

IRunFast242 karma


CatherynneMValente5 karma

The kind that runs itself, does walls and curtains and furniture, and isn't afeared of two giant dogs and two giant cats and the fur that they bear into the world.

Seriously. They've killed the Roomba.

vektonaut2 karma

Tell us about your haunted house!

CatherynneMValente7 karma

We're doing an Arctic Horror theme! Household costumes are Dr Frankenstein, his monster, and I'm going as Mary Shelley. (Dead version, obviously.)

Spray painting the pumpkins white and frosted, fake snow and blue lights everywhere, skeleton in a dinghy in the front yard with sailor's hat...can't wait!

thatbeme2 karma

What is the nature, composition and suspected motive/s of the phantom/s, revanant/s or spectral presences who haunt your island home?

CatherynneMValente5 karma

They seem to be deeply motivated to turn taps and record players on and off in the older houses. A sample of one of my favorite exchanges with another islander:

Me: I saw a grave for Thankful Griffin in the graveyard by Sandy Beach. What a fantastic name!

Islander: Ayup, Thankful still haunts the old Litchfield house down the way...

Chernobyl_Rat2 karma

I've only read Deathless so far, but it was amazing and I can't wait to get my hands on more of your books. My question is: how did you go from regular person to a writer? When did you start writing fiction? What did you do before you wrote (for yourself and for publication)?

CatherynneMValente8 karma

All writers are regular people. ;)

I started writing around age 10, but I've seen home videos that inform me that I've been babbling stories since I could speak. But mostly I wrote poetry until after college. My first novel, The Labyrinth, believe it or not, was the first piece of fiction I wrote. While I was writing it, I was working as a fortune teller.

LadyFrenzy2 karma

Could you describe the journey in writing September from the Fairyland series? Her character has really grown in the last 3 books, it almost breaks my heart! As a reader I'm proud, how do you feel as her creator?

CatherynneMValente3 karma

What a lovely thing to say. I am proud of her too.

September is growing up, so the journey for me is a little like raising a teenager. Trying to teach her that growing up isn't a fat worse than death and magic isn't limited to childhood, but not sheltering her from the world.

Kira19902 karma

Can we expect more adult novels from you?

CatherynneMValente4 karma

Absolutely! My next one, Radiance, is coming out from Tor next year, followed by another in 2015. Just a brief break while the kids' books take over my life (in a beautiful way).

I will always write both. Promise.

speckleshell2 karma

hi cat! you mentioned gaming and ffviii - do you tend towards rpgs or play a little bit of everything? and, to steer the question back towards writing, have you ever been particularly touched or inspired by a character or story in a game? have you ever considered writing for one?

CatherynneMValente5 karma

I'd love to write for a game, honestly.

I love RPGs but I play a little of everything. As far as inspiring games, FFVII, VIII, Bastion, and Costume Quest spring to mind as ones that really got to me. Shadow of the Colossus, but that pretty much goes without saying.

johnrgrace2 karma

If you had three wishes what would you wish for?

CatherynneMValente8 karma


  1. Enough time
  2. Enough money
  3. Enough strength

stoked_for_you2 karma

hoestly cat i don't read a lot of scifi but i just want you to know that it seems like you are doing what you love and i always love to see that just keep doing it because the fact that you are happy makes me happy and if i ever get down i will just remember that you are doing what you love and you've made a life for yourself out of it and that is a truly beautiful thing

CatherynneMValente2 karma

Thank you.

Kira19901 karma

Have you ever consumed any entheogens?

CatherynneMValente5 karma

As a matter of fact, yes.

Kira19901 karma

I could tell. .^

CatherynneMValente4 karma

It was after I'd written my most out there books.

CurdlessFern1 karma

I'm currently reading Deathless. I'm still quite early on in the book, so I thought I would ask - how much prior knowledge of Russian folklore would you recommend before I carry on reading? I'm fascinated and willing to do some research and reading, so I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!

CatherynneMValente6 karma

It's meant to work even if you don't know anything about Russian folklore--but if you wanted to read the original folktale, Marya Morevna and Koschei the Deathless, and brush up on your basic Revolution-WWII in Russia facts, you'd be set.

chemicool1 karma

When will you read another of your short stories on Clarkesworld?

CatherynneMValente2 karma

Kate Baker does all the podcasting now and she's wonderful at it. So though I'll have a story in Clarkesworld every year as long as I can help it, I don't know that they'll ask me to read them again.

coyotegoth1 karma

Hi, Cat! I was wondering- are there any fantasy films in particular that resonate with you?

CatherynneMValente3 karma

Labyrinth is as close to my favorite film of all time as makes no nevermind. I love all the 80s fantasy movies, Legend, Dark Crystal, Neverending Story. Beasts of the Southern Wild really got to me when I saw it earlier this year.

lordofpirates0 karma

Catherynne I don't really have a question I just wanted to thank you for writing the Orphan's Tales and to apologize for asking you for a french fry at Convergence in 2011 and then swatting it out of your hand as you offered it to me. Beastly of me, I'm terribly sorry. If I were to ask a question it would be do you ever get sick of the manuscript you're writing and if so how you combat those feelings and keep working?

edit: proper spelling of your name.

CatherynneMValente5 karma

I cry and curse and beat the stairs.

I was going to give a serious answer, but honestly, that's about the shape of it.

French fries were made for abuse.

s_mw-1 karma

What inspires you?

CatherynneMValente4 karma

Everything. All the time.

indeeds-1 karma

Cats. Why?

CatherynneMValente5 karma

Because they are little rogue AIs and thus hilarious. Not so little in my case as I have two Maine Coons that weigh in at about 20 pounds each and can destroy moderately sized cities with their vast paws.


I have to ask, but what vacuum do you recommend and why?

CatherynneMValente2 karma

Two vacuum questions! going on?

I have a big giant shop vac. Regular vacuums will not cut it at my house.

megazver2 karma

It's a hilarious new thing to ask in every AMA.

CatherynneMValente3 karma


I feel old.