Friday, April 10, 2015

Editing in Process / Book Received: Vermilion by Molly Tanzer

Cover art by Dalton Rose
Jeez...or is it Geez? (Actually, I believe one is a variant of the other.) I'm so far behind on blog posts that I haven't even written about my work on this book -- and the book itself just arrived in the mail! I'm talking, of course, about Molly Tanzer's first novel, Vermilion, from the indefatigable publisher Word Horde and Ross E. Lockhart.

But let me clarify...I'm not really that far behind on blog posts: I finished work on Vermilion the first week of February, and the trade paperback edition is now in my hands. That speaks more to the quality and effort of the publisher, working with my line and copy edits on this 380-page novel in early February, to distributing the book about nine weeks later.

So let me tell you a bit about Vermilion -- it's a weird western, it's steampunk, it's about Chinese families and traditions, and it's about ghosts, and magic. The story takes place in the Western US around the time work had been completed on laying tracks for the railroads. A lot of Chinese laborers were unable to find work, and consequently many had become desperate.

Opening the book to the full title page enables you to read the subtitle: "The Adventures of Lou Merriwether, Psychopomp." So, who is Lou Merriwether and what is a psychopomp?
Gunslinging, chain smoking, Stetson-wearing Taoist psychopomp, Elouise "Lou" Merriwether might not be a normal 19-year-old, but she's too busy keeping San Francisco safe from ghosts, shades, and geung si to care much about that. It's an important job, though most folks consider it downright spooky. Some have even accused Lou of being more comfortable with the dead than the living, and, well...they’re not wrong.
When Lou learns that a number of Chinatown boys have gone missing deep in the Colorado Rockies -- ostensibly to work on the railroads -- she takes it upon herself to find them, if not to bring them home alive, then to help their troubled spirits cross over. And Lou does indeed set out on an adventure. She tracks the boys to a mysterious sanatorium known as Fountain of Youth. She encounters humanoid bears and desperate men, and a very undead villain who runs the sanatorium and has built a flying machine -- actually, a flying train!

I haven't had this much fun working on a project since, well, since a very long time. Vermilion reminded me of the Detective Inspector Chen stories by Liz Williams, and even a bit of the Laundry Files by Charles Stross (but without all the geekery/neepery, of course). If weird western steampunk magic vampire ghost stories is your thing, then hurry aboard Vermilion: the train is about to leave the track, and you won't want to miss this great ride! And I'm hoping the book is indeed successful, because this novel is just screaming for a sequel.

If you are strictly an ebook reader, then Vermilion is now available in Kindle format from Amazon. However, if you prefer the feel of a real book, but like the advantage an ebook provides when you're traveling, then go for the Vermilion bundled package direct from Word Horde: the trade paperback, a bookplate signed by Molly Tanzer, and the ebook format of your choice (epub, mobi, or PDF) -- all for $16.99.

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