Dragons World Tour: Sweden (30/3/09)

Posted in News

The Adamantine Palace has gone to Sweden for April, where, in one corner of Scandanavia, it has become book of the month. Apparently it’s got “Alkemister, drakpräster, blodsmagiker och en mystisk främmande makt frÃ¥n andra sidan have…”

Now, speaking English quite fluently as with reasonably passable German, I reckon you can have a go at Swedish. What have we got here? Alchemists, dragon-priests, blood-mages and, er… a mysterious folk from across the sea…? Well the alchemists, dragon-priests, blood-mages was easy enough, wasn’t it? Apparently not. Not if you’re an automatic translation service. “Dr. Machine-gun priests?!” There are none of those in The Adamantine Palace. Although it has got me thinking for the sequels…

There’s also a little interview there, if you care to look for it. In English.

Buy Direct (29/3/09)

Posted in News

Tricky one this. Authors write books, bookshops sell them. If bookshops started writing books, I’d get miffed, so I don’t really want to start selling them. But I do plan to keep a small stock for conventions, promotions, freebies etc. and I’ve been convinced that there should be exceptions. Please bear in mind that this sort of malarky takes up valuable writing time and is what bookshops are for – it’s really meant to be the exception rather than the rule.

To buy copies of my books direct from me, this is what you do:

1) You get a Paypal account set up.

2) If we haven’t already been in touch personally, please  mail me to see whether I’ve actually got any copies of what you want kicking about and going spare. We’ll agree a price for what you want and I’ll tell you what the mail account to use for Paypal.

3) Make purchase via Paypal.

4) Wait patiently for your book to arrive.

The Dust Settles (23/3/2009)

Posted in News

Publication day has been and gone. The earth continues to rotate about its axis. There has been no spontaneous outbreak of world peace and the queen has not phoned in her congratulations. Little, in fact, has changed save for a large transference of alcohol and other miscellaneous goods and services in exchange for what was left of The Adamantine Palace’s advance.

Yet I am strangely content.

There isn’t much news. Warehouse stock levels are pleasingly low although an early reprint is unlikely to be in the offing. There has been movement on the US and French editions (the translator has been in touch) but nothing from Germany and no new hints of dates for any of them as yet. Possible appearances at a couple of conventions but nothing confirmed. Done a couple of interviews. Blah blah blah. I have signed a wall of books (I’m not kidding about that either. It was a wall).

I’ll post the interviews up on a slow news week later in the year. Same with an expanded version of an article on dragons that appears in the latest Sci Fi Now. Order Of The Scales (if that’s the title it keeps) is up to 91k words and Eastercon looms large. I have a stinking cold coming on.

Oh, and I might print some T-shirts just for the hell of it. Adamantine Palace T-shirt anyone?

P-day (19/3/09)

Posted in News

It’s been in waterstones since the weekend, amazon copies arrived yesterday or the day before, but today is officially Publication Day. Twenty five years in the making. The last couple of weeks have been a roller coaster and I don’t imagine it’s going to calm down for another month, but just for today I’m going to stop caring what anyone thinks and revel in it.

Don’t worry – tomorrow I’ll go back to fretting about how to make sure King of the Crags is EVEN BETTER than The Adamantine Palace and still every bit as much FUN.

More reviews and stuff (17/3/2009)

Posted in News

<David Attenborough> “And here, in the wild, a rare picture of a new novel freshly released onto the shelves. These first few days can be a difficult time for a novel so recently separated from its author. Sometimes, unfamiliar with their proper place on the shelves, they can be seen to seek out company and companionship from others of their kind, as we see here. Moving in to another’s territory like this can be dangerous, as once out on the shelves, competition for readers can be intense.” </David Attenborough>

It’s become clear over the last few weeks that critical opinion on The Adamantine Palace is split cleanly down the middle between those who don’t mind that the background setting is pretty skeletal and those who think it would be better if it wasn’t. Deathray falls in the latter camp with: “…and when have as potentially a fascinating one [world] as this, we’d like to know how it works.” OK Deathray and the rest of you, if you’ll put up with me kicking down the door and being all sturm und drang in book one, I’ll see if I can show you a little more of my world in books two and three. They do also observe that: “The story runs like a whippet.” Which is nice. Something on which we can all agree. As long as we all understand that it’s a really fast whippet we’re talking about. With a rocket up its…

Moving swiftly on, there’s finally someone at Strange Horizons who really, really doesn’t get on with The Adamantine Palace, concluding that: “The dragonocalypse will be happening without me.” That’s how it goes. One week you’re Oscar Wilde, the next you’re as shallow and vapid as an oil slick. Well, sorry, Strange Horizons, but in your case I don’t think you’ve got much to look forward to. I’m afraid it’s very possible that Zafir might say the ‘F-word’ for a second time, and it’s quite likely that Jehal won’t have undergone some monastic transformation and given up sex just yet. And it’s not dragonocalypse, it’s drapocalypse.

Although you might be right that one’s coming… ;-)

Fly, my beauties, fly! (13/3/09)

Posted in News

After work today I walked into Used-to-be-Ottakars in Chelmsford for a coffee and to write another few lines of Order of the Scales (80k words now for anyone who’s keeping track, but don’t get too excited that it’s going to be finished for Eastercon because it’s going to need at least one major revision and a stern talking to before I can let it out of the house. But I digress). I walk into the shop, and there, standing right in front of me and with a slightly surprised (guilty?) look on his face is the nice man who runs the fantasy & science fiction section. He’s holding my book.

Stop there for a moment to savour… He’s holding my book. Squeee!

So I sign them and we chat and I’m all Mr-Calm-And-Collected, and I go for my coffee, and then when no one’s looking I sneak back down again to stare at them on the shelf in the fantasy section.

Stop there for a moment to savour… They’re on the shelf. Of a real bookshop. Squeee!

I thought about taking a picture of them and then thought how sad is that and now I wish I had. And I would have posted it too. And you could all have called me King Sad of Sadland and I’d still be grinning. I might go back tomorrow and sneak a snap.

Apparently someone had already bought one. So: Anyone who bought a copy of The Adamantine Palace in Chelmsford on Friday 13th and it wasn’t signed, you were too eager. And eagerness is good and shall be rewarded. So, if it was you and you’re reading this, and you want it signed, and since by definition you must be local, get in touch and we’ll sort something out.

Stop there for a moment to savour… Someone bought one. Squeee!

Friday the 13th. What a fine day. Fly, my beauties, fly…

Call Me Oscar (…and other reviews; 11/3/2009)

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A.k.a. Best review ever

What do you get if you cross an Anne McCaffery with an Oscar Wilde? According to Locus magazine’s review of The Adamantine Palace, what you get is me:

‘The wittiest of a bunch where wit is rarely in short supply is Stephen Deas, in his remarkable début The Adamantine Palace. A Prologue sets the scene, as the mid-air liaison of two humans (a scheming prince and an adulterous “dragon-queen”) shifts from lusty grappling to murder with one push: “Her arms flailed and then she was gone, off into the sky.” Every entity here, whatever their species or aristocratic rank, proves to be thoroughly physical, and most are morally flawed, but Deas isn’t interested in giving us another epic clash of Good vs. Evil.

Even the vivid portrayal of dragons, in a culture which has constrained them and made them into an uncanny version of our flying machines, doesn’t lead to a wallow in high magics or picturesque delights. As Queen Shezira (a hedonist more cynical than the late Queen Aliphera) tells one of her daughters when they enter a new city, “You’ll see many strange and different sights here, Lystra. Keep your sense of wonder, but keep it to yourself, too, or people will take you for a fool.”

At first, the combination of the fantastic with keen observation and sheer impudence reads something like Anne McCaffery as filtered through the mind of Oscar Wilde. Amid the partial chaos of shifting viewpoints and a growing cast of characters there’s a strong thread of sardonic humour, enough to keep the prospect of a brokered marriage – handing over another of Shezira’s daughters to the murderous Prince Jehal – from seeming entirely horrific.

Meanwhile, details about the dragons – and their relationship to the humans they think of as “Little Ones” – continue to trickle in via another plot thread, laying the ground for a tale that will come to be both substantially darker and more imaginative than cynical social comedy. As Deas moves beyond the wiles of his political schemers and the more general bitterness of a sell-sword working for dragon riders, he finds room for a broad spectrum of emotions ranging from unexpected tenderness to a berserker rage than man and dragon may share (though in other ways they’re very different).

From the sublime to the bland, it’s hard to pick a quote from the SFX review. “Not the instant classic that some have suggested, but promising enough and neatly set up for a sequel?” Hmmm. “A promising set-up. Whether the rest of the book lives up to the initial idea is less certain?” No, not that. “The plot moves along briskly and surprises occur?” Gee. Three stars. Guess for one reviewer we did a lot of taxiing around the airport but never quite took off huh? Never mind: The world could do with a bit more depth? Yes, OK, fair cop. But Prince Jehal’s motivations are opaque? Really? I thought they were just shallow, that’s all…

I suppose the most useful (although sadly lacking in Oscar Wilde references) is actually Fantasy Book Critic, which is a fairly lengthy and explicit (and happily generally very positive) review and includes the book blurb, some background and links to other online reviews (with varying degrees of hyperbola). Gollancz has discovered another winner? Yes, I’ll take that as a last word.

There’s also a complete list of all the reviews I’m aware of (good and bad) here.

But back to Oscar. Thank you Locus. Thank you very much. And now I shall away to my hatter, for I feel my head has become greatly swollen…

Sci-Fi London Film Festival (9/3/2009)

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Now in its 8th year, SCI-FI-LONDON is expanding on the popularity of the film festival and filmmaking workshops by opening up a new stream of events called SCI-FI-LONDON LABS.  The labs will comprise several panels of invited guests, recognised leaders in their fields, to discuss aspects of science and literature with the SFL audience.

That’s me. Yes, folks, a recognised leader in the field of… something. Or maybe it’s a polite way of asking for people to help set up the tables.

The Power of Poo (Part II) (8/3/2009)

Posted in Critical Failures

So I have a roleplaying party who are part of a band of travelling actors/musicians/performers(/clowns) and who don’t like to be sucked into anything that might be dangerous. They’ve found themselves travelling with a dodgy mage and they’ve handed him in to the authorities. They’ve witnessed an atrocity and handed it in to the authorities. If they found money lying in the street they might keep it, but only if they were sure it wasn’t dangerous. What, I wondered, would it take to kick them into action…?

I mean, what happened to “You’re all in an inn when a shadowy stranger staggers in. He slumps over your table, bleeds a lot, holds out a map, gasps something about ‘treasure’ and dies,” and that was all you needed to do? Adventure started. Plot ready for thickening. Lights camera action, etc. This lot would back sidle hastily away, pretend they’d never been there and complain bitterly to each other about the bloodstains on their clothes.

Well now I know what it takes. I suppose I should have seen it coming, but the plot now revolves around poo. It’s not even my fault. They started it. I’m just jumping on the bandwagon.

So, if nothing else works to kick-start your adventure, I have a new one. “You’re all in an inn, bleary-eyed from the night before when a bunch of people run up and throw poo all over your stuff.”

Yeah. Do I have your attention now? Never mind glory, never mind riches, never mind the looming cataclysm that threatens to end the entire world. Dude, there’s poo on your stuff.


The Power of Poo (part I) (8/3/2009)

Posted in Critical Failures

I run an occasional (much more occasional that I’d like) role-playing game for a few old of mine. They are, by nature, a generally danger-averse lot, and the same character or character types come up time and time again:
a) Someone who generally likes to lurk at the back, is good with knives and whose first instinct is to run away.
b) Someone who’s a bit of an academic or craftsman, who can’t resist the draw of meddling in Things That Man Was Not Meant To Know, but whose first instinct is otherwise to run away.
c) Someone who has a feast of character quirks and whose first instinct is to run away.
d) …

You get the picture. So when I dangle temptation in front of them, there are a couple of players who are generally game for investigating what’s up, and a rather larger number who are game for leaving Mr Temptation well alone, thank-you, or possibly notifying the authorities if there are some authorities conveniently nearby. Most famously, this lot have managed to avoid any sort of confrontation whatsoever for seven consecutive game nights until they finally plucked up the courage to tackle a single guard dog. A single guard dog that was asleep at the time.

In that particular game this was, finally, how they fell into the clutching maw that was the plot. They have learned from their mistake to let sleeping dogs lie. No more temptation. Rumours of a mysterious artefact in the nearby woods? Best leave it be. Mysterious artefact known to be in the hands of dodgy guy they could easily turn over? Best leave it be. Mysterious artefact found lying unguarded in the middle of the road? Best leave it be. Man runs up to them claiming to have been an arch-villain who’s just gone through a religious conversion, has seen the light and is giving up his warrior ways for a life of contemplative solitude and would they like to look after his mysterious artefact? Best leave it be.

Sometimes, when a mysterious artefact really won’t leave them alone, they turn it over to the authorities instead.

Disturbingly like the way real people might behave, in fact.

Spot the Difference Competition (1/3/2009)

Posted in News

There are a number of subtle differences between the draft cover image for The Adamantine Palace posted up on this website and the actual printed cover art. Some sort of desperately trivial prize (yet to be determined and entirely subject to the whim of the author, although suggestions will be listened to) will be awarded to the first person to write in and correctly spot the differences. Yay!