Tescos In Chelmsford Is Crap

Posted in Critical Failures

Now in hindsight, I should have realised that going to a supermarket on the evening of December 22nd was pushing my luck. I admit, I thought that ‘a bit busy’ would be an adequate description. After all, it wasn’t the 23rd or the 24th. There were still two full shopping days before the entire retail world shut down for – what – a world-shaking 60 hours, any one of which could turn out to be Armageddon, right?

The first clue was the car park. ‘A bit busy’ was just about an adequate description. It was possible to park without having to cruise for hours and start several bitter personal feuds that would last generations in order to get a parking space. It wasn’t that bad. My gamble, it seemed, was going to pay off.

Inside the store wasn’t too bad either. At least, not the running up and down the aisles part. In that is was possible to move more often than it wasn’t. If you put aside the number of trolleys that had been abandoned, half-laden, in the middle of them, that is. But then even one trolley abandoned with obviously no thought given to anyone else tends to induce homicidal thoughts in me (I can understand the need. Even my wife does it. But please, park them where they’re at least a little bit out of the way. You’re in Tescos, remember? Not barricading the streets to herald the coming of the revolution).

So all of this is not as bad as it might be, and as usual, I’m pleasantly surprised by how good-humoured it all is. And, come to think of it, this happens every Christmas, right. When you stop and think about it, everything I’ve described sounds entirely predictable, right?

So why, with the shop practically bursting at the seams and eight laden trolleys lining up for each till were only half the checkouts open? When I left (with the checkout I had used now closed behind me), the queue had reached ten. At the far end of the shop in the alcohol queue, they’d run out of aisle and were snaking around the back of the shop. It’s a good job we English are so well-natured when it comes to queuing otherwise people would have been looting the gardening section for pitchforks and torches so they could lynch the management. Can’t have been any fun for the till-operators either.

Mead and very content children have since taken the edge off my bile and I realise that forty minutes of queuing is a mere piffle in a town that’s used to hosting the V-festival, but still, critical failure of forward planning, Tescos. 1/10 (a couple of bonus points for the shelves still being at least reasonably well stocked, minus one for refusing to let me use my Clubcard rewards vouchers unless I’ve got my f**king Clubcard with me).

The rewrite begins (24/12/08)

Posted in News

Happy Christmas everybody.

First reader finished King of the Crags a couple of days ago. Main criticism: More background detail needed (and do something about Character X).

At the same time I’m about a quarter of the way through Order of the Scales (about 35k words I think). I have discovered that in order for this book to work, it’s either going to have to be about half as long again as the others, or else two things need to happen: Firstly the history of the dragons (up to a point at least) and of the alchemists and their function in the realms needs to be well established in previous volumes. The Adamantine Palace quite deliberately didn’t do this, so The King of the Crags now pretty much has to. The second thing is that Character X serves no useful purpose other than to give the reader a vicarious thrill when he/she/it finally becomes dragon food. Well I guess you can have that in book two just as easily as book three.

So the rewrite will begin shortly, and it will take a while and King of the Crags will wind up a little longer and a little calmer than The Adamantine Palace and probably be the better for it. Submission to Gollancz is now expected sometime in January, a mere six months ahead of schedule :-)

Satisfaction down under (16/12/08)

Posted in News


OK, first of all, in repsonse to those who have asked, the construction of the Death Star is proceeding slowly but steadily. It is a little behind schedule but as yet there have been no Sith Lord visits to chivvy us along. I’m sure the school holidays will get us back on track.

Right. This from the publicity manager at Hachette Australia.

‘I was utterly absorbed by this fast moving and action-packed fantasy of Machiavellian characters, political intrigue, deceit, conspiracies, murder and dragons!! Deas has portrayed a society that is rotten to the core, much in the same way as Morgan did in The Steel Remains. We are presented with all-too-human characters, bent on gratifying their own selfish needs for power and control. In their hunger to rule, they have enslaved Dragons to serve their own needs… Dragons are drugged by alchemists who administer potions to make them do their owners bidding… I have to admit that I was barracking for the dragons, in particular Snow, wanting them to burninate them all and revolt! Deas has written a modern, fact-paced story, with short punchy chapters, full of action and interest, which move from character to character… This is another brilliant Gollancz debut!!’

Burninate. Has a ring to it…

And now I want to read The Steel Remains.

The proudest moment of my year (15/12/08)

Posted in News

A lot has happened this year. The Adamantine Palace was mostly written this year. I got to see my first cover and my first reviews. A rather pleasing US rights sale was made. I’ve met lots of new and interesting people, many of whom have said nice encouraging things. It would have been hard, up until today, to have said what had made me glow with pride the most. And then there was today, and now there can be no doubt. Having received a promotion to a higher reading grade at school, my nearly six-year-old came out with this statement:

“When my teacher said it was reading time, I used to think that was really boring, but now I realise that it’s really fun.”

Yes. YES! Because it IS! I think that’s the coolest thing anyone has said to me all year. I have a smile on my face and a spring in my step that should see me right past Christmas.

In other, far less significant news, Order of the Scales has reached about 25k words, first reader claims to be within a week of finishing reading King of the Crags which means I can get back to working on that soon, and The Adamantine Palace is apparently destined to be editor’s choice for the BCA Fantasy and SF bookclub in February. This is all cool, but not as cool as a little boy who has discovered that he loves to read.

Oh and speaking of fun, TAP has been called a “Fast, sharp, ruthless read” by Joe Abercrombie, a man whose opinions should be heeded and whose books should be read. Lots. By everyone. Because they are most definitely fun, and of the highest order.

Hollywood snub shock (9/12/08)

Posted in News

I heard today that a Hollywood producer had taken a look at The Adamantine Palace and decided they couldn’t see it as a movie. I suppose I ought to be disappointed, but I’m going to take a glass-half-full view of this and spend the evening bouncing up and down going “Wow! Hollywood actually took an interest!”

Obviously (in case there are any other big-shot producers out there reading this), The Adamantine Palace would make a very fine movie, and it should have John Malkovich in it as Speaker Hyram at the very least. However, we’ve not gotten very far when it comes to casting everyone else. Now, maybe having the right cast would improve the chances of a movie actually being made, so I propose the following partial cast for your amusement: I have to admit, though, that I do see The Adamantine Palace more as anime. Sex and monsters! Rah! (and I also realise that I have failed to include Johnny Depp. My bad).

Prince Jehal:      Joaquim Phoenix, James McAvoy or possibly Paul Bettany

Queen Zafir:      Scarlett Johannson

Speaker Hyram: John Malkovitch

Queen Shezira: Helen Mirren

Princess Jaslyn: Ziyi Zhang

Princess Lystra: Lauren Ambrose

Kemir:               Diego Luna

Sollos:              Jason Statham

Rider Semian:    Javier Bardem

Lord Meteroa:    Jason Isaacs or maybe Alan Rickman

Lady Nastria:     Tilda Swinton

(This is now the mk.3 list).

Casting is now in progress for King of the Crags. Names in the frame for new characters include Christian Bale or Viggo Mortensen, Rusell Crowe, Tomas Kretchmann and Helena Bonham-Carter. Luke Goss, an alternative Jason Isaacs role and David Bowie are all being lined up for book three :-)

(Im)Patience, patience (3/12/08)

Posted in News

Let it not be said that I treated myself to any kind of well-earned rest, having finished the proof-read of The Adamantine Palace and the first draft of King of the Crags all in the same month. No indeed, for I have hereby this day commenced on The Order of the Scales, despite stringent vows not to until at least January.


Although there’s something to be said for getting on to the last book of the three. A ‘book one’s job is to loudly kick the door to the party down and shout stuff along the lines of “Hey! Y’all! Look at me!” and other such subtlties. A ‘book three’ gets to run out into the back garden with a fistful of fireworks a go “Hey! Look at what I brought!” and generally make as big an arse of itself as it likes on the grounds that by that stage everyone has either gone home or is so drunk they really don’t care. Poor old ‘book two’ is stuck in the middle and has to mingle its way around the party, introducing itself and getting to know people, making friends and being vaguely apologetic for the mess it made of the door on the way in, while all the time having to be extra careful about the bucket of fireworks it brought with it in case one catches a spark from someone’s cigarette and goes off accidentally in a crowded hall.

I now have this deep dread that none of the above makes any sense at all.

<synopsis>Middle books. Tricky buggers.</synopsis>


Maybe I should just go to bed.

The wisdom of children

Posted in Critical Failures

Right. Now the necessary context here is that I have quite an eclectic taste in music. This varies all the way from baroque organ music to death metal. It is the latter of these that concerns us today, for it was one such CD that had cycled its way into the car stereo when I inadvertently turned it one while the children were in the car. For those who don’t know what death-metal is, it basically consists of playing the same very loud note over and over again really fast and barking out unintelligible lyrics in a very deep and constipated growling sort of way. I’m sure the attraction is instantly clear…

Naturally I apologied profusely to the (I assumed) horrified small people behind me, who I imagined to be on the verge of instant tears. But no, I was informed that death metal (Boltthrower to be precise) was quite acceptable. They listened in an open-minded sort of way for a minute or so before reaching a unanimous opinion that death metal wasn’t for them (and you have no idea of the look of relief on my other half’s face when I reached that part of the story – having hooked them on The Swans and Fields of the Nephilim has been quite bad enough…), and proceeded into a short but bitter argument as to whether Ennio Morricone or Hawkwind would be a more suitable palate-cleanser. As I, still somewhat mortified as though I had somehow done something akin to accidentally letting my five-year-old play Manhunt, changed over the music, I was presented with one final critical question from my audience:

“Papa? Was that Jabba the Hutt?”

I had to say yes, yes it was. I have listened to that CD several times since then. And it is. The secret of death-metal singing is to sound like Jabba the Hutt.

Almost trivial aside: Proof-reading for The Adamantine Palace finsihed this morning. That’s it folks. No more fiddling, no more chances to change anything, no more opportunities to add in 20000 words of mysteriously deleted background material. And breath in… and out. And in… and out.