Ask Naomi Novik: Summer Edition


novik-headshotEvery month, bestselling author Naomi Novik accepts questions from fans via her website and answers five of them.

Below you will find Naomi’s answers from questions sent into the website between May 2011 and July 2011 — a Summer Edition, if you will — but if you have any questions for her visit her website HERE and Ask Naomi Novik!

Below is the Summer Edition of Ask Naomi Novik:


Jacob writes: How did you come up with all of the dragon breeds for the novels?

Naomi Novik responds: I like to use other animal species as inspiration — many of the dragon breeds are inspired by butterflies or birds, for instance the black swallowtail inspired the look of the Imperial and Celestial dragons.

The names of the breeds sometimes come from the corresponding animal, and sometimes there’s a really perfect historical match that I steal like the Pou de Ciel (“Flea of the Sky”), which was the name of one of the first French aircraft.

Shawn L. writes: Can your fans expect to see any sort of nod to Temeraire in Liberty Vocational, such as one of the characters reading the novels or something to that effect?

Naomi Novik responds: Heee, I will totally nab that idea for the next volume of Liberty Vocational.

Olivia C. writes: In Throne of Jade, a species called Xenica is briefly mentioned. Will we be hearing or seeing anymore of this breed?

Naomi Novik responds: Possibly! I don’t have any particular details in mind of the breed yet, though, so it’s up in the air.

Kalie C. writes: Will you post a preview/excerpt from Crucible of Gold? And if so, when?

Naomi Novik responds: The prologue is up on my website now!

Sam C. writes: What does the process of publishing/releasing a book entail? (I saw in a recent update of yours that you had sent off a draft, but I wonder where in the process of releasing the book that is.)

Naomi Novik responds: I think the process varies a lot from writer to writer, and mine is changing a bit given the new baby. 🙂 This time I charged through a first draft doing less revising along the way so I could get a draft done and relieve both my own and my editor’s anxiety. But I then spent a bunch more time in the revisions stage. But broadly, the process looks like this for me:

  • steady march to first draft
  • revisions to final draft after editorial/beta comments come back
  • copyedit stage where I always make a pile of additional changes much to everyone’s annoyance
  • proofreading stage where I am not really allowed to make significant (that is, page-number-altering) changes, and therefore I generally only pretend to look over the galleys, because otherwise I inevitably want to do more rewriting. 😛

And then after that some sort of mystical ritual is performed and obeisances made to the clanking metal altar of the printing press and books appear in a fragrant cloud of brimstone and myrrh. Well, as far as I know, anyway.

José G. writes: Dear Naomi: I’m a Temeraire SPANISH fan, and I ask you to implore/beg that: Can your agent contacts with the publisher of Spain because we’re waiting for long years to can read the fourth, fifth and sixth books of the Temeraire saga. Thanks for your time, and best wishes!

Naomi Novik responds: Alas, I have no direct contact with my foreign publishers, for the most part, since Random House handles my foreign rights (and do an amazing job with them)! But I have asked my agent to check up on where things are in Spain and will update when I know. 🙂

Susan A. writes: Did you think of the French meaning of temeraire when choosing his name?

Naomi Novik responds: Indirectly — of course that’s the meaning the French had in mind when they named their ship Temeraire, and the ship is the immediate inspiration of the name (largely because of the Turner painting, which has long been a favorite of mine).

Hanna L. writes: Will the end of the war in the series be much like the real one?

Naomi Novik responds: No comment. 😀

Lukas S. writes: Is there a chance that someone could create an official forum for the Temeraire series? It would be great for fans of the books to have a place to talk about it.

Naomi Novik responds: I don’t know! What do you think, Shawn? 😀

Hanna L. writes: Would you consider writing novels or shortstories about the Temeraire universe, but in a different time period?

Naomi Novik responds: I already will be doing so for the short story collection I’m doing for Subterranean Press to go along with the winning pieces from the fanart contest! I’m very excited to do so.

Rebecca. writes: Bit of a silly question, but it keeps puzzling me! Do the dragons shed their skins?

Naomi Novik responds: Nope, other than (I am making this up as I type so I reserve the right to change it in canon *g*) the same way we shed our skin, with scales falling off as they get dried out and cracked and old, with new replacements growing in.

Anonymous writes: Have you ever given any thought to the origins of dragons in the Temeraire universe? Like whether the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs never hit and dragons evolved as a result, or some other explanation.

Naomi Novik responds: I have, and it’s possible that some of those thoughts may make their way into book 8. *smiles in mysterious fashion*

Dan S. writes: Will we ever be able to read the full versions of Edward Howe’s works?

Naomi Novik responds: Only if some really enterprising fanfic writer provides! 😉

Anonymous writes: Do you think dragons ever existed for real?

Naomi Novik responds: Alas, no. But I hope they will someday! Screw flying cars, I am totally holding out for a mechanical dragon. (Or a genetically engineered one. I am not picky!)


Tongues of Serpents, Book 6 in the Temeraire series, is out now in paperback! Crucible of Gold, Book 7, will be published in March 2012! To learn more about Naomi Novik, visit her website HERE! And be sure to send in your own questions.

Who knows? You might be featured on her website and on Unbound Worlds!