It's here! Or rather, it's there! Lips Touch is in the UK! This was my book prior to Daughter of Smoke & Bone, published in the US in 2009, and given a second life now in this beautiful edition.
A huuuuuge thanks to my amazing UK publishers, Hodder & Stoughton, and my wonderful editor Kate Howard, for bringing this about and doing their usual gorgeous job of it! I love you, Hodder & Stoughton!
The interior art is here, as in the original. The book is fully illustrated by my exquisitely talented collaborator and husband, Jim Di Bartolo. See:
Lips Touch is a collection of two long stories and one novella, all of which hinge on a kiss. These stories have an interesting origin, for me, because they were written in the days after my first novel, Blackbringer, had been sold (some time in 2006, maybe?), and while I was undergoing the early phases of the publishing process for the first time. I was a skinful of excitement and dread, and though I *should* have been making a start on my next novel, Silksinger, which was already under contract, I ... couldn't. I didn't have editorial notes yet, I was filled with uncertainty. And I'd been working on that first novel for so long, what my brain really needed to do was play.
I co-founded a writing community blog, where we wrote weekly from prompts, and it was so freeing, to be writing these short pieces, with an attitude of playfulness and pure pleasure. Some were fiction, some were non, some were just little bits of fluff. And, by chance or brain patterns, a connection emerged in several of my entries. There were kisses that had ... life-altering consequences.
I imagine most writers know the way that things they're writing "just for fun" have a way of evolving into projects for publication, and the seed of this was when, in response to my considering subbing them to magazines, Jim said, "Or they could be a book. An illustrated book."
*fair chime sound effect in brain*
And so it was :-) And the resulting book was a National Book Award finalist, which is one of the very happiest things to have happened to Jim and me in our publishing lives!
One of my favorite things about the stories is the short intro to each one. I had such a blast writing these, and they give you a pretty good taste of what the stories are going to be like:
There is a certain kind of girl the goblins crave. You could walk across a highschool campus and point them out: not her, not her, her. The pert, lovely ones with butterfly tattoos in secret places, sitting on their boyfriends’ laps? No, not them. The girls watching the lovely ones sitting on their boyfriends’ laps? Yes.
The goblins want girls who dream so hard about being pretty their yearning leaves a palpable trail, a scent goblins can follow like sharks on a soft bloom of blood. The girls with hungry eyes who pray each night to wake up as someone else. Urgent, unkissed, wishful girls.
* * *
SPICY LITTLE CURSES SUCH AS THESE
Kissing can ruin lives. Lips touch, sometimes teeth clash. New hunger is born with a throb and caution falls away. A cursed girl with lips still moist from her first kiss might feel suddenly wild, like a little monsoon. She might forget her curse just long enough to get careless and let it come true. She might kill everyone she loves.
She might, and she might not.
A particular demon in India rather hoped that she would.
This is the story of the curse and the kiss, the demon and the girl. It’s a love story with dancing and death in it, and singing and souls and shadows reeled out on kite strings. It begins underneath India, on the cusp of the last century when the British were still riding elephants with maharajas and skirmishing on the arid frontiers of the empire.
The story begins in Hell.
* * *
Six days before Esme’s fourteenth birthday, her left eye turned from brown to blue. It happened in the night. She went to sleep with brown eyes, and when she woke at dawn to the howling of wolves, her left eye was blue. She had just slipped out of bed when she noticed it. She was headed to the window to look for the wolves --wolves in London, of all impossible things! But she didn’t make it to the window. Her eye flashed at her in the mirror, pale as the wink of a ghost, and she forgot all about the wolves and just stared at herself.
It was no trick of the light. Her eye was an eerie white-blue, the color of ancient ice in a place that never thaws, and as startling as it was, there was something profoundly familiar about it too. Esme’s blood quickened as a shock of memories pulsed through her: a world of snow and spires; a milky mirror framed in jewels; the touch of warm lips on hers.
Esme swayed on her feet. These weren’t her memories. This wasn’t her eye. She clamped a hand over it and ran to wake her mother.
* * *
Hope you enjoy!
For US readers, if you'd like to give it a read, find it at Amazon or Oh! Weird. You can get the UK edition through Powells.