Zippy update

Happy Thanksgiving (mostly to the Americans), and hi to everyone else!

I should be catching up with Barbara soon and asking about new stories/upcoming plans.  She’s been busy with teaching, and I’ve been…busy with my partner’s cancer.  Yep, about when the robot finally was getting less needy, lymphoma entered my love’s life.  It’s been a rocky few months, and almost everything (including, at times, eating and sleeping!) has been pushed to one side.  It looks like he’s responding well to the chemo.  I’ve been a cancer biologist for…oh, a long time now, but this is a very different perspective.


Best wishes for the holidays.  I promise I’ll be back.  Take care, everyone!




Okay…finally, after answering questions over a looooong period of many years, I can say:




Audible has a number of them, including a lot of the older Del Rey fantasies, and at least some of the Benjamin January books.  I’ve never understood the appeal of the audiobook, but I sincerely hope that if you’ve been waiting for them, that you enjoy them hugely!

Two New Further Adventure Stories!

Hi, all-

I’ve just added the latest two arrivals to the Further Adventures. The latest two stories are Shadowbaby, set in the Winterlands/Dragonsbane universe, and Nanya of the Butterflies, a Sun Wolf and Starhawk story. Both stories are brand-new, never-before-published, and approximately 15 K words in length (I tell you the latter because…people ask).  All Further Adventures stories are $5.


For those of you who thought maybe I had died…no, just very busy with a robot.  Well, two robots.  Really.  I work for a small company, we’re doing an automation project, and I’ve had my head stuck in a robot (and then in the code for the robots) since September.  We’re neeeeerly done, and then I might be able to get some of my life back.  So no, there’s not much updated on the page, although I did try to make the store a little bit easier to navigate. In the meantime, please check out the new stories, and feel free to comment on news in the Hambly-world.  As always, up-to-date info on Barbara’a life and writing can be found at her blog (see the link to the right).  I will drag the page into the Century of the Fruitbat soon, the robots HAVE to launch soon.



Plus-One joins the Further Adventures stable (Antryg alert!) tonight

Hi, all-

Hope you’re having a great summer!  The latest Further Adventures story, Plus-One, debuts tonight.  If anyone thought that traveling to California meant Joanna and Antryg were going to have a nice peaceful life, unmarred by brushes with alien lifeforms, random Voids, and errant mageborn (not to mention rock stars, ectoplasm, and the intricacies of tending bar)…well, they were wrong.  Head on over to the Further Adventures page to read an excerpt (it’s a very silly excerpt) and purchase the story.

The Further Adventures page will be getting an update in the near future, as this site undergoes a complete rearrangement and update.  It will take a while – my coding-till-2am college days are long past – but it is coming.



Yes! Another Further Adventures story – Sun Wolf and Starhawk

Hi, all-

Barbara just sent the latest, all-new Further Adventures story, Fairest In The Land.  This one is a Sun Wolf and Starhawk story…do the Wolf and Hawk get run out of town after their latest adventure?  You’ll have to read on to find out!   Fairest – as well as any of the other ten Further Adventures stories – can be bought from the Further Adventures page.


Barbara and I are both thrilled by the response to Corridor, the latest story – thank you so much to everyone!

New Further Adventures Story – Antryg and Joanna


Barbara just finished the brand-new Antryg and Joanna story “Corridor” to join the Further Adventures lineup.  Perfect for indulging in after the Thanksgiving feast, or for the plane ride to the feast!  Head over to the Further Adventures page to read an excerpt, and to buy “Corridor” or any of the other nine stories on offer.

Thank you all so much for making FA such a success so far.   Barbara is working on an all-new Sun Wolf and Starhawk story, and we hope to have that up before Christmas.  Happy Thanksgiving (Americans) or Happy End of November (people not looking forward to massive turkey feasts this week).



New Vampire Story (Further Adventures, part 4)

Ready for a light bit of poolside reading?  Further Adventures part four is here!   Sunrise on Running Water is the latest offering, and Barbara describes it:  “This is my vampire-on-the-Titanic story, which appeared in Dark Delicacies II in 2007. I re-read it yesterday and still think it’s pretty funny. Don Simon Ysidro makes a VERY brief cameo appearance.”  I never saw this when it came out the first time, but in case you have a copy already, the story is the same.


She also says she’s working on a new Antryg story.  Yes!!  Write faster!


Sunrise on Running Water (and all the other stories) are available in pdf, epub, and mobi formats.  Enjoy!

Kid Gloves ‘n’ Hookers

Kid Gloves ‘n’ Hookers
Barbara Hambly

So, did a hooker cost more than a pair of kid gloves?
Since the first moment long-ago when I sat down with a sheet of blue-lined notebook paper in front of me at the kitchen table to write my first “historical novel” (this was before I learned to type – and slightly before electric typewriters became sufficiently common that they’d be found in ordinary homes), I’ve been in quest of information about what things used to cost.
This is always important in detective fiction, because when your detective thinks, Hmn, he claims he’s just a poor boy from Podunk, so what’s he doing wearing $500 Tony Lama boots? it tells your reader a) that Poorboy from Podunk is lying like a rug and b) that Ms. Detective is the kind of person who notices that kind of thing. Specificity always makes your character sound more intelligent, and puts the reader firmly into the setting.
If we’re in the eighteenth century, that’s a whole nother wrinkle on that puzzle.
So, where do you get this information?
I used to go up to UCLA or UC Riverside libraries and poke around the stacks (which is how I figured out what motorcycle James Asher rides, and whether you could or couldn’t ride one if you happen to have just had your right wrist broken by an irate vampire). These days, I have a collection of books on the subject, though you can find this information about some things on the Net. (For instance, at – an online magazine about the works of Ms. Austen – I gleaned the information that a family of five plus a maid-servant in 1825 could live on £2.11.7d a week, tough doings if Dad was only pulling in 15 shillings a week). (Which is what Scrooge paid Bob Cratchit, the wicked old skinflint, and Bob had six or seven children and no maid-servant in sight).
A History of the Cost of Living, by John Burnett, is a dandy.
So’s Oliver Bernier’s Pleasure and Privilege, for late 18th-century France.
I’ve always loved Paul Johnson’s The Birth of the Modern, for Ben January’s period – 1815-1830s (though Ben is slightly beyond that now). (It also tells what was the strongest patent-medicine opium).
Bernier sourced his book from Mercier’s Tableau de Paris, some of which has been translated: amazing stuff on Paris in the 1780s. Another good one is Henry Mayhew’s London Labour and the London Poor, written in the 1840s-50s. Both of these have been reprinted. Also reprinted are old Sears Catalogs, which give American prices, but estimates can be jiggered with on-line currency converters (how much does Ysidro pay for his shoes?).
Most helpful of all is Liza Picard’s 4-volume series about London: Elizabeth’s London, Restoration London, Dr. Johnson’s London, and Victorian London. All of these can be found on, through which I can often buy these very dry, obscure, specific volumes for only a couple dollars over the cost of postage.
So, which was more expensive? As it is today, of course, that depended on the hooker – and the gloves.


Refuelling. That’s what Poppy Z Brite called it, standing on a streetcorner of Royal Street one evening in 1997. “Reading books, going to clubs, listening to music,” she said.
It’s the part of writing that a lot of non-writers don’t really understand.
I’ve just spent a very pleasant afternoon cutting out shirts for myself. Later I’ll go for a walk, and hope to put in a couple of hours this evening slaughtering unoffending Evil Mercenaries on the X-Box. This is as much a part of being a writer as the actual sitting-in-front-of-the-computer part. Getting out. Breathing air. Talking to friends. I find I always work better, when I can put my brain in a bowl of cold water for a couple of days.
Sometimes, one has no choice. Lower advances = taking as many projects as are offered, and these +a part-time job (see: “lower advances” above) = a heavier work schedule. I am fortunately insanely disciplined about my work, and, when possible, insanely disciplined about my rest-time as well. (I’m a Virgo, it’s what we do).
But a part of writing is – metaphorically or actually – lying on one’s back staring at the clouds, and this can get difficult if there is another member of the household, and understandably so. (I’m sure the legendarily crabby Xantippe, wife of Socrates, got pretty tired of Soc just hanging out talking instead of bringing in even a minimal paycheck). I’ve been on both sides of that line, and both are ugly. Where does refuelling turn into procrastinating? I generally know for myself (since I don’t procrastinate about writing), but living with a writer who had a different clock-speed than I got pretty tense sometimes. “Why don’t you help out around here?” is bad enough, but there’s also, “I’m bored, come talk to me…” I have no idea what the appropriate response connected with either of those is, but closing the study door did not help).
Essentially, the part of me that writes is still a five-year-old child. During the ‘seventies those New Age effusions about “Caring for your Inner Child” put my teeth on edge – they often seemed to me to be simply a justification for bad behavior, irresponsibility, and selfishness – but yes, the part of me that writes is very much a child. Writing – any kind of art, I think – is a balancing-act, being simultaneously child and adult. The stories – the dreams – the people I see in my head – those are produced by that five-year-old sitting in some mental inner closet pecking away at a keyboard. But it’s the adult that crafts them, so that other people can see them exactly as I do: “WAY too many adjectives, dear… that’s the fifth time you’ve used the word ‘deleriously’ in three paragraphs… does the reader really need to know about Zelda’s toenails?” Or, “What does the air smell like, when it smells like that?”
And the adult has the responsibilities of an adult, to make sure the dog gets fed, to behave responsibly with sales people, to maintain her part of the relationships that nourish the soul.
But part of my job as the adult is to take care of that child. And children need their naps.
(I also buy her presents from time to time, which unfortunately I can’t deduct from my income-tax the way I can a new monitor for the computer.)