1. Toby Hay’s The Gathering
Lush, gorgeous instrumental-only folk music from Wales. Listening to this album makes me feel like I’m absorbing emotional sunshine! I love it, and I can’t count how many times I’ve listened to it since I bought it last week. You can hear the first song for free here.
2. Aliette de Bodard’s The House of Binding Thorns
Another lush pleasure! This time, it’s an adult fantasy novel set in a magically post-apocalyptic Paris with fallen angels and a fabulous, underwater dragon kingdom inside the Seine river. Ohhhhh do I love this book. I read it first as an e-ARC months ago and then started re-reading it yesterday afternoon as soon as my pre-ordered paper copy arrived. I’m loving it even more the second time through! It’s so rich and absorbing and magical and satisfying. It’s also the second full-length book in her Dominion of the Fallen series, and as much as I loved Book One (The House of Shattered Wings), this one is even better. I adore this whole series!
I still like reading paper books most of all, but one of my favorite things about online- and ebook culture is that it’s now possible and easy for authors to publish all sorts of fun tie-in stories related to their series. After I read and loved Aliette’s The House of Shattered Wings last year, I devoured every one of her tie-in stories, which took the same setting and characters and gave them fun adventures and romances that had only been hinted at in the backstories of the full-length books. I adore them all (and you can find the whole list here), but my personal favorites are her Of Books and Earth and Courtship and Children of Thorns, Children of Water. Both of them give fascinatingly different perspectives and new insights on familiar characters from the series.
And I love getting to see the world made larger through those tie-in stories, too! Patrick’s YA novella The Dinosaur Hunters is a completely standalone story with original characters that don’t appear in any of his MG novels – but it’s set on the same world of Regency-era British Mars, and it all sprang from a throwaway mention in his first book. It’s one of my very favorite novellas ever, it is SO MUCH fun, funny and exciting (think: an Agatha Christie-style mystery with T-Rexes and girl detectives!), and – while you don’t need to have read any of his books before reading it – it gives a whole different view on the world of his books. (You can find out more and read the opening of it here.)
There’s a whole added pleasure for me as a reader to discover these smaller stories filling out side-characters and backstories from the larger novels and to get glimpses at the wider life of the world outside of the novels that I’ve loved. Each time I read a good tie-in story, I get to fall into the world again and again, and it becomes more real and rich to me with each new dip inside it.
And of course, as an author that kind of story is just incredibly fun to write. Without ebooks, I couldn’t have published my own YA novella Courting Magic, a standalone story that gives my MG heroine Kat her own grown-up romance – much less Flying Magic (a short-short story about Kat’s own kids!), Dueling Magicks (a short story set between the first two Kat books) and Forbidden Magic (a short story about Kat’s parents that’s coming out tomorrow, huzzah)!
Novels work really, really well with traditional publishing, and I personally love publishing my full-length books that way. But when it comes to shorter, quirkier lengths and tie-in stories, it is SO great to have the freedom that hybrid publishing gives!
I’d love to hear about any of your own favorite tie-in stories to series that you’re following!