Now that’s what I’m talking about (30/1/2009)

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After the thrills of last week, nothing very much new has happened, so in the meantime I offer this for your amusement.

Order of the Scales has reached 49000 words, King of the Crags is with Simon-the-editor and The Adamantine Palace is only abouit a fortnight away from being printed (yay!)

The trials of Celebrity II (23/1/2009)

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Also on the subject of trials I have a sore wrist from signing 400 book plates. Apparently I only needed to sign half that number, so presumably my editor thinks that my writing hand needs to lose weight. Or maybe with sufficient exercise it might be able to type quicker. Or for longer. Or something.

Signing your name 400 times is a really, really dull thing to do. I have a new-found sympathy and respect for people who have to do this sort of thing on a regular basis.

Oh, and I did it on a plane. If you’re the one who’s plate says ‘wheeee…’ underneath, that was when we took off. I was a bit fed up by then, so sorry about that.

The trials of Celebrity (23/1/2009)

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Pillaged from the interweb

“Suzanne McLeod got Mark, Karen and I invited to David Devereux after party at the Phoenix Club as part of the launch of his new novel, Eagle Rising. We had a brilliant time and got to chat with several of the authors and we were introduced to a new rising star at Gollancz, Stephen Deas, whose upcoming novel, The Adamantine Palace, is to be published in March 2009.”

Stuff like this makes me want to jump up and down and wave my hands and go “SQUEEEE!” like some girly teenage cheerleader type. Of course, I only do that on the inside. On the outside, I merely frown. Or more probably put on some expression that ends up looking like a constipated Klingon. It had never occurred to me until now, though, that other people might get that same sensation merely from being in the august presence of the new dragonlord. It’s a frightening thought; after all, I too was only there because a proper author, who’s actually got a book that’s printed and in shops and that you can actually buy and stuff like that was kind enough to invite me

Rising star? I think I’ve gone up a cap-size. Possibly two. Squeee…

Fortunately there’s always the occasional blast from the past (a pleasure, Mr Proven) to remind one of ones grubby goth-biker history. And if that’s not enough, I’m quite certain I can rely on certain other parties to fill the house with scornful laughter at the very thought of such nonsense.

So that’s that silliness sorted, right?

It Is Finished (23/1/2009)

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Yes, folks, construction of the Death Star finally completed (several days ago now, but I’ve been away), as very poorly pictured below as the junior construction supervisor puts the finishing touches to Darth Vader’s rest chamber (or whatever it is). There might have been lots more pictures and all sorts of silliness involving inappropriate posing of mini-figures (especially after Senior Construction Supervisor finally retrieved gold-bikini Princess Leia from behind a radiator). But for the time being, you’ll all have to exercise your imaginations instead. I’m toying with a Star Wars mini-figures photo contest of some sort, but that would be: a) Immensely sad and b) Almost certainly done somewhere else and better.

Death Star Consstruction

Death Star Construction

Oh, and in lesser news, King of the Crags got delivered to Gollancz too.

I used to subscribe to this lot… (13/1/2009)

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Stephen Deas’ debut fantasy novel, THE ADAMANTINE PALACE, has been chosen as the Editor’s Choice for February 2009 by the SF & Fantasy Book Club.

The book will be published in the UK by Gollancz in March.

Contact John Jarrold for further information: e-mail:

Nearly There (13/1/2009)

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Yes, I can proudly announce that the Death Star took a great leap forward last weekend and is now approaching completion. The detention block is done, as are the throne room and the turbolaser turrets.

In a few moments accidentally spent writing stuff, King of the Crags got largely finished too.

Ars Draconis (13/1/2009)

Posted in Critical Failures

I don’t remember how we got here. First Reader thought Ars Draconis might be a good title for book seven or maybe eight. Or maybe nine. Or maybe it was just me. Anyway, Ars Draconis so obvious that someone was bound to have used it already, I thought. I’d Google it, find it used a dozen times already, and that would be that.

But no. As far as I can tell, it’s a free title. Virgin. Up for grabs and going begging. Amazon has no knowledge of any such title.

Still, I thought I’d better go and have a look at the top of the Google list

Whoa. Hermetic dragon magic shit. Not for the novice magician! “As a cautionary word of warning: This Work is NOT for a new practitioner. I advise that the new practitioner seek education and experience that way they can call upon the Dragons with the NECESSARY experience and confidence.”

I have to admit, this is not what I expected. And I strictly ought to raise my hand at this point and say ‘yes sir, when it comes to real Order-of-the-Silver-Twilight etc. magic, new practitioner would describe me very well’ and meekly head off somewhere less intimidating.

Well screw that, thinks I. When it comes to the dragons, I am the arch-mage. I conjour with tooth and claw and fire and scale on a whim. Summoning the full force of my draconic power around me, I entered and had a good look around, and so far I don’t seem to have suffered any undue mental trauma. The craftsmanship of the poetry leaves something to be desired. I think I can safely say that (force and Earth do not even pretend to rhyme, dammit!)

No. What got me were the adverts in the banner:

- ‘Yin Yang symbols – thinking of buying’ (no, not really, but it’s in keeping with the theme of the site).

- ‘Children’s Lights’ Er… but a moment ago you were telling me how to summon the powers of the elder dragons.LO! Come to my mighty fortress of power where I shall initiate ye in the awesome power of the elder dragons and sell you lampshades.

- ‘Free Magic Spells: Whatever you need, my powerful spells can help. All free.’ Hmmm. Well if I could do magic that actually worked, you can be damn sure I’d be charging a fistful for it, but OK, at least we’re back in character.

And finally my favourite, because it caught me out at the first take: ‘Compare energy prices.’ Wow, I thought. Twenty-first century or what? Are we piping in psychic energy from India via Khazakhstan now? Pitching that against a little Voodoo juju zapped in from Haiti? Is that what it means? Is there a free market in Reiki sendings now? In which case, do they operate a money-back policy? Maybe now we’re mining latent Atlantean energies from the North Sea… Suddenly the world is filled with possibilities.

Sadly no. The small print makes it clear. ‘Compare UK gas and energy prices.’

Dammit, I liked my advert better.

Gollancz authors alarmed by new editorial policy (9/1/09)

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Simon, this is for you… :-)

Schroedinger’s Characters (6/1/2009)

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Someone died last night. At least, I think they did. Actually, they might have been dead all the time. I’m not sure one way or the other and it’s quite hard to tell. And given that they’re an entirely fictional creation existing only in my head and on bits of virtual paper, it’s a bit weird.

See, as well as the published reviews, I’ve had a little stack of informal comments back from people who’ve read The Adamantine Palace. “I’m really looking forward to finding out more about X” was an early comment that caught my attention. That’s interesting, I thought. Not much chance of that given that X is dead. Admittedly, X dies ‘off-screen.’ I didn’t actually write it. I could bring X back if I wanted to! Wow! The god complex that lurks in one of the community flats in my head woke up and cackled for a bit before the men in the white coats turned up with some sedatives. No no. X is dead and gone, I thought. Leave it be.

Abd then, a little later, came another casual comment. I like the way you weren’t afraid to kill off characters like Y and Z. There wasn’t much doubt about Y. Y gets eaten by a dragon. There’s not much coming back from being eaten by a dragon. But it was a bit surprised to learn that Z was dead. Alarmed, in fact, as Z was a moderately significant character with multiple appearances throughout Kign of the Crags. How could Z be dead? I was still writing them. They were still walking and talking. Wouldn’t I have noticed if they were dead? I don’t recall having the undead feature in my plot. Not yet, anyway.

And yet, on reflection, they might well have been right and I might be wrong. Z might well be dead. Which will mean excising them from the whole of King of the Crags, which is going to be a right nuisance.

I’ve had characters do things I didn’t want before. I’ve had characters insist on dying when they were supposed to stay alive. But a character getting snuiffed out and then pretending not to be dead for an entire sequel? This is new territory. Who’s in charge here?

Shattered Glass (5/1/2009)

Posted in Critical Failures

We watched this rather good little movie last night. It’s based on the true story of a journalist who worked for the New Republic and who, for whatever reasons, fabricated his stories rather than based them on carefully researched fact. The journalist is played by Darth Vader Hayden Christensen. It’s a pretty good performance and leaves you guessing for a lot of the movie as to what’s going on inside his head. The problem is, don’t know whether the cold, calculating decietful person I thought I was glimpsiong from time to time was really supposed to be there, or whether that was just a part of my brain screaming ‘Don’t trust him – he’s turning to the dark side!’ and actually the story is about someone rather sad who was simply floundering way out of his depth.

Sad sad sad.

On the plus side, Peter Sarsgaard is excellent as his editor.

Happy New Year (2/1/2009)

Posted in Critical Failures | News

Happy new year everyone. I don’t know whether to class this as a ‘news’ post or a ‘critical failures’ post. A critical failure because this post was supposed to go up yesterday. In fact, my whole year is already one day out of whack on account of having had two New Year’s parties cancelled on me at short(ish) notice and then spending most of the day in bed with a migraine anyway. So yesterday was our ‘celebration’ day in this house. All in all this holiday season hasn’t been that great. We had a very nice Yule celebration on the 20th, Christmas itself was overrun by the little people, the smaller of whom seems to have regressed to being two again and throwing ‘I want’ tantrums left right and centre. The bigger one knocked a tooth out, root and all – still don’t know quite how he did it, and we’ve managed to see precisely one couple of *our* friends. With a bit of luck that will change shortly. So the holiday season gets a big thumbs sideways this year. The kids had a great time. The rest of us, I think, are just relieved that it’s all over.

However, on the plus side, number one son’s favourite song is currently The Knights of Cydonia by Muse and number two has developed a penchant for Space Lord by Monster Magnet, so at least driving is fun now.

In the midst of all this, some surprisingly useful writing has happened. The reworking of King of the Crags is under way and I’m about a third of the way through. It seems like it’s going really well. I’m pleasantly surprised to find that it’s quite a good book in the first place (or so it seems to me, but I always remember everything I write as being rubbish until I read it again). But what’s really making the difference is the addition of a little extra material. I won’t say that this has come about as a direct result of the early reviews because to some extent it would have happened anyway. Still, the reviews have made me think about some things more than would otherwise have happened, so thank-you reviewers, all of you so far. You have made The King of the Crags better (and fractionally longer – sorry Simon) than it would otherwise have been.

the Order of the Scales is on hold at about a third of the way through while I deal with the rewrite. A certain Total Recall inspired scene is now imminent. Or not, as the case may be.

No New Year’s resolutions this year except to finish King of the Crags, Order of the Scales and the construction of the Lego Death Star (in no particular order) and to actually read some books written by other people this year.