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Monday, January 19, 2009


And we have a winner!

Many thanks to everyone who entertained me so thoroughly with their inventive and charming first sentences for In Great Waters. I'm announcing a winner, who gets a free copy, but if you want to keep on playing and coming up with other alternatives, by all means help yourselves.

So, the winning ones. Second runner-up goes to Dash, for the elegantly simple 'Splash!'

First runner-up goes to Michael Mock, for some really good sentences which sketch in rather a lot of background.

But the winner of the book is going to have to be Amaryllis, who made me fall about laughing with 'Call me Fishmael' - not only hilarious, but oddly appropriate for the story's theme; it seems to sum it up with the memorable succinctness of an advertising slogan, and I suspect I'll find myself using it when explaining the book in future. So, Amaryllis, if you'll send your e-mail address to kitwhitfield@hotmail.com and let me know where you want it sent, I'll pass on the news to my publicist. It will probably have to wait for the official publication date; I'll try to get hold of it and sign it if you like.

However, you're all winners here, so by way of a shared reward, you get ... (fanfare please) ... a sneak preview! This is the actual first paragraph:

Henry could remember the moment of his birth. Crushing pressure, heat, and then the contact with the sea, terrifyingly cold - but at the same time a release from constriction, the instant freedom of the skin. His mother gathered him up in her arms and swam to the surface, cradling him on her slick breast to lift his head above the water for his first breath. Henry never forgot it, the mouthful of icy air, the waves chopping his skin, a woman's arms holding him up in a world suddenly without warmth.

Will there be a signing tour?
Congratulation to Amaryllis! (And, well done - I tried, but couldn't come up with anything even half so funny!)
What, I won? Really? Wow, I'm honored-- I thought there were lots of great lines in those submissions.

Thank you, Michael Mock, and congratulations yourself. (See above about good writing.)

And I'm thrilled-- I get the book! Signed, even, without having to fly to London and track down Kit in person! Picture me delighted.

*goes off to send email*
Aha ! I was wondering what was thwappable about Donalbain's sentence on the other thread...

Congratulations Amaryllis, you deserved it ^^

Any idea about when it comes out in paperback ? I don't like hardcovers very much (well, I like them but they take up too much space) but if it's the choice between that and waiting a year...

(I'll also second the question about a signing tour !)

Verification word is "ruddfu", unfortunately I don't speak Welsh but I'll look it up.
Congratulations, Amaryllis! Well done! It was a wonderful line. (I think we'll all be quoting it.)

Verification word: "modsori" a type of seaweed sometimes presented by deepsmen to Japanese landsmen as a particularly prized gift preparatory to all major negotiations.
Hmm. Conscious and able to form memories at the moment of birth. These are some interesting people you've created here, Kit.
To be technical, human babies are conscious and able to form memories at birth, also. It's childhood amnesia that causes us to forget our early childhood. Brain reorganization is a very, very interesting thing.

Truth be told, it's also slightly plausible for deepsfolk to remember their earliest moments like this. In an essentially bouyant environment, there's less stress on a pregnant deepswoman's body carrying a child. Deepsbabies could be born after the fifth or sixth trimester!

Of course, now that this is all in print it means I'm either right or wrong. :P
It's a good point, Christopher, for which I have to give you full credit. But you know what? It might well work with the scenario I've laid out. My reasoning was based largely on nature documentaries: species born into open and dangerous environments need to have babies that can function quickly, otherwise they'd get taken by predators. You can't make a nest in the sea, hence deepsmen have to be born at least reasonably conscious to survive. Deepsmen children mature faster than landsmen ones, at least intellectually, with the payoff that deepsmen are rather stupider than landsmen, or at least, more simplistic in their thinking - though hybrids can be bright.
Deepsmen children mature faster than landsmen ones, at least intellectually, with the payoff that deepsmen are rather stupider than landsmen, or at least, more simplistic in their thinking - though hybrids can be bright.

That might be more a product of culture than anything else, if you're willing to entertain uninformed speculation. Without access to land (or even much need for it), it's plausible that the Deepsmen have retained a hunter-gatherer culture. To modern or medieval sensibilities, hunter-gatherers sound primitive regardless of innate intelligence.

I wouldn't expect even a Deepsman Einstein to have the cultural background necessary to understand court politics and the value of agricultural land. That makes your Angelica-hybrid all the more interesting, as the first of the Deepsmen (hybrids) who "gets it."
Oh, and there won't be a signing tour; however, if you want a signed copy, you could send me a book plate. You could send me the book itself too if you're prepared to include a return envelope with the proper stamps - I don't want to have to pay for postage or spend hours queuing in my post office, but if you can get hold of the right stamps I'll sign books and put them back in the post. If you're in America, a book plate might be more manageable, I suspect.

Word: broolog. A race mentioned in the first draft of Gulliver's Travels, excised during the rewrites. Notable features include heads the same width as their bodies, and a preoccupation with matters of political intrigue, expressed through the medium of muffins.
Congratulations, Amaryllis!

What's a book plate when it's at home, then?

"hydro"? My word is XX#$!#$%& "hydro"? Gah! That's no fun!
Book plate: a decorative piece of paper you stick inside a book.

Word: latin. A dead language originally spoken in Italy, which became a lingua franca during an imperial era. Behold and marvel at my inventiveness?
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