Inside Track – Martha Wells – The Cloud Roads

Posted by on April 19, 2011 in contests, inside track | 6 comments

Last week, I launched a new blog feature:  Inside Track.  Today, I’m thrilled to bring you  Martha Wells’s thoughts about her novel THE CLOUD ROADS, available from Night Shade Books.  Remember – the best part of Inside Track for you (if you are a US or Canadian resident) is that you have a chance to win a copy of Martha’s book – all you have to do is comment on this post in any or all places that the post appears.  I’ll select a winner at random after midnight next Tuesday.  (And if you’re not a US or Canadian resident, never fear – there will be other Inside Track book prizes you can comment for, in future weeks!)

So, without further ado…

Martha and I might have passed each other in the night as we were growing up.  Both of us are from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, both of us were geeky, outcast kids, and we both grew up to be fantasy writers.  Martha got her act together a lot earlier than I managed to coordinate mine – her first novel, THE ELEMENT OF FIRE, appeared in 1993.  You can read the first two chapters of Martha’s most recent novel, THE CLOUD ROADS, on her website:

Martha’s Inside Track:

I think this book came out of my pervasive imposter syndrome.  I was a very lonely kid and always felt like I was on the outside looking in.  I was interested in things (like SF/F books and comics) that the other kids thought were weird.  I first found out about organized fandom when I was in high school, and was able to join a group that put on SF/F conventions when I was in college, and I’ve been a published writer since 1993, but it’s been hard to shake the feeling of being an outsider.  Whatever happens, I still have that sneaky undermining idea that I don’t belong here and that sooner or later people are going to figure it out.  It doesn’t make sense, but imposter syndrome never does.

I wanted to try to exorcise that feeling (or at least get some use out of it) by writing about a character who truly was an outsider.

The main character of THE CLOUD ROADS is Moon.  He was an orphan, who grew up with no memory of who his people are or where they came from, no way to find others like him.  His differences prevent him from staying anywhere for very long, because the species he most closely resembles are the Fell, brutal winged predators who feed on other intelligent species and survive by destroying entire cities.

When Moon does find his people, he also has to face the possibility that it may be too late for him to really become one of them.  That he’s too different to fit in, and that he’s been alone too long.

I also wanted to write a book that was different from pretty much everything else I’d written.  THE CLOUD ROADS is still a fantasy, but isn’t based on any historical time period, or even a combination of historical time periods. It goes back to when I first started reading fantasy and SF in elementary school, the old Ace and DAW fantasies with the pulp covers tucked away in a corner of the Fort Worth Public Library. It’s set in a world with multiple races and species and a bizarre ecosystem. There is gender role reversal, and characters who are non-human shapeshifters who can fly, and look mostly like demons and sort of like dragons, and there’s a little bit of sex and an unusual romance.

I think THE CLOUD ROADS is a book I’ve wanted to write, and been trying to write, for a long time.  It took my dedicated and persistent agent two years to sell it, and I’m very grateful to Night Shade Books for taking a chance and publishing it.  And thanks to Mindy for giving me the opportunity to talk about it on her blog!

You can pick up your copy of THE CLOUD ROADS from these vendors:

Barnes and Noble, Amazon US, Powell’s, Mysterious Galaxy, The Tattered Cover, Books-a-Million, Book (free shipping worldwide), Book, Amazon UK,,,, or look for it it at an independent book store in the US through IndieBound. Also available directly from the publisher at Night Shade Books.

ebook: Amazon Kindle Edition, Baen Webscription eBook, Barnes & Noble NookBook, Kobo

And don’t forget — comment on this post, and maybe you’ll win your very own copy!


  1. Commenting; I’ve already bought and read the book, but the local library could sure use a copy in their collection, so if I win this, that’s where it’ll go! 🙂

  2. I am a huge fan of Mindy, but I don’t think I’ve ever read anything of yours, Martha. Now you have me curious..payday this week was going for the latest Kirstin Britain Green Rider series, but I think I’ll pick up one of your books instead and give it a trial ride.

    By the by, Cloud Road, really sounds like it resonates with today’s society and probably me, too. Always felt like the one who was the observer of everybody else and life, yearning to be the one in the middle of a circle of laughing friends…..still, at 56, pretty much there. Am looking forward to reading your work.


    • Thank you very much, Brenda 🙂

  3. This post reminded me that the vague sense of unease I felt earlier today when accepting a new gig was mostly imposter syndrome. Because, of course, from here, one looks at an author and says “Pshaw, of course you’re a writer!” but it’s never that clear from the ground.

  4. I understand the “imposter syndrome” thing, Martha — I felt the same way growing up, and still have a lot of it. I also know that feeling of trying something very different, since after I finish this Allie book, I’m going to outline and try to sell several very different things. Here’s to Moon — may he find a place he can be comfortable, even if he has to carve it out of rock himself.

    I’m looking forward to this book, although it’s not in budget right now. If you haven’t tried Martha Wells’ books, you’re missing some great stuff! Highly recommended!