My novel All the Birds in the Sky is coming out in January, and I’ll be writing more about the process of writing this book, and what I learned from doing it, as the publication date approaches. For now, though, you can read the first four chapters at Tor.com.

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And yes, I meant to write “science fiction and fantasy” in the headline. This book is kinda both—it’s about the relationship between a witch named Patricia and a mad scientist named Laurence. There are time machines and spells, and two very different ways of looking at the world. They start out as kids who are trying to figure out how they fit in. Then they reconnect as adults, after she’s gone to magic school and he’s joined a secret organization of mad scientists.

Here’s how the whole shebang begins:

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When Patricia was six years old, she found a wounded bird. The sparrow thrashed on top of a pile of wet red leaves in the crook of two roots, waving its crushed wing. Crying, in a pitch almost too high for Patricia to hear. She looked into the sparrow’s eye, enveloped by a dark stripe, and she saw its fear. Not just fear, but also misery—as if this bird knew it would die soon. Patricia still didn’t understand how the life could just go out of someone’s body forever, but she could tell this bird was fighting against death with everything it had.

Patricia vowed with all her heart to do everything in her power to save this bird. This was what led to Patricia being asked a question with no good answer, which marked her for life.

She scooped up the sparrow with a dry leaf, very gently, and laid it in her red bucket. Rays of the afternoon sun came at the bucket horizontally, bathing the bird in red light so it looked radioactive. The bird was still whipping around, trying to fly with one wing.

“It’s okay,” Patricia told the bird. “I’ve got you. It’s okay.”

Read the rest of the excerpts over at Tor.com.

Top image: unused cover designs for All the Birds, by the invincible Will Staehle