Diamond Cascade: Errr…

Posted in DC

Many were the mighty and brave companions who had valiently and boldy stood at Diamond Cascade’s side in his righteous quest, but those who stood with him on that final journey to Mektropika were the greatest heroes from the most ancient and wise nation of elves: Tiarth the monster-hunter, who would wear a blindfold to face a man in single combat for fear the fight would otherwise be too one-sided; Levincious, master mage capable of bending the very fabric of the universe to his will; Uthan, deadly stalker of all things dark and foul, asssassin of assassins, the hunter whose name brings fear to even the blackest of the drow; and the apocalyptic might of the great mage DREDD, against whose sorceries no man alive or dead may stand and whose mere name makes the very mountains shake. They were the greatest heroes of their age at the height of their power, and they would become legend.

There. Now would you please untie me and stop poking me with the sharp sticks, eh?


What’s in a name? (21/2/2011)

Posted in News

Progress report: Second draft of The Black Mausoleum completed. No significant structural defects apparent. MS will be delivered on time. Possibly early to make up for the last one. However, there’s just one little detail to be ironed out…

The Black Mausoleum revolves around a smaller number of characters than the previous books in The Memory of Flames, arguably five, depending on whether you count the dragon or not. However, there are a handful of very minor supporting characters kicking about, in particular a couple of hapless dragon-riders and a band of dragon-hunters to whom bad things happen. These are the red-shirts, the spear-carriers, utterly two-dimensional and more akin to part of the scenery than an actual character. They’re speaking parts, but only just, and in some cases, their speaking is limited to saying “Argh!” Right now, they need some names. Currently they’re called Lenk, Logan, Nico (short for Nicodemus) and, er… Dave[1]. It’s possible my editor may have some issues with this selection.

So yes, they need some names. I have a back-catalogue of other people’s annoying RPG characters that I’d happily use and then gain vicarious pleasure from watching them die in various burny squishy ways, but before I do that, here’s an open invitation to all you readers out there: send me a name for someone you’d like to see stomped on by a dragon/crushed under a falling temple/burned/eaten/eaten by canibals. They kind of have to be fantasy-ish and not either obviously copyright infringements or likely to get me thumped by another author at some future con, but other than that, I’ll pick and choose as I fancy from whatever I’m offered and there might be a note on the source in the acknowledgements…

[1] Because they’re Extras and I have a mate called Dave who looks exactly like… oh never mind.

Diamond Cascade: Introducing… Elf Patrol

Posted in DC

First up is Tiarth, the blind monster-hunting elf who doesn’t even know exactly what he’s looking for – some kind of powerful undead. Tiarth’s specialist subjects are not-being-sneaked-up-on, exotic ranged combat, having-travelled-with-me-before-and-ran-away-without-any-explanation and being the only one here who’s not just out to line their pockets at the expense of everyone else. Tiarth hopes to star in a travelling stage adaption of Blind Fury before becoming a spiritual guru for delinquent young elves who think poetry is stupid. His favourite food is lasagne.

Next we have the first of the brothers from a land far away, Leninseeus or something like that, whose special powers include never being spelt the same way twice, accidentally teleporting through space and time and, uniquely, having-an-interest-in-the-bigger-picture. Levinshias’ hobbies include dandelion weaving and plotting-to-rule-over-large-potions-of-the-world-with-an-iron-fist. When not accidentally teleporting through space and time, he is an active member of the All Male Silvery Moon  Junior Wizards Choir. His favourite food is coconut.

Then we have Uthal, brother to Leveencheops, whose unique skills include pissing off local lords by sleeping with their wives thirteen seconds after accidentally teleporting into their territory and having a backpack that still smells vaguely of wee. Uthal is here because his brother made him, but hopes to make something of himself in this new land nonetheless, preferably as a speak-his-name-in-whispers-lest-he-hear-you murderer-for-hire. When not on quests to loot old temples, Uthal can often be found having a quiet drink in his local tavern where his favourite tipple is pressed burberries over ice.

Last but not least, Wizard Daftboy, magistrate of a small town with no name somewhere on the southern fringes of Osmuld. His specialist abilities include not-hanging-around-to-defend-this-mudhole-town-if-there’s-orcs-coming, using his one and only remaining offensive spell of the day to kick off a fight with a wereshark, and complaining that the Flaming Sphere spell really isn’t that great when everyone around you has +5 or better DEX mods to their Reflex save. Wizard Daftboy hopes one day to open a clinic for unusually open-minded elves ostracised by their own society for their lack of arrogance and xenophobia and to this end he keeps a journal of his travels which he hopes to use as course material – it is thus furthering his aspirations to abuse him. Wizard Daftboy’s favourite food is orc-grass.

They’re elves. They’re all at least 120 years old. And we’re all off on a quest. We could call it… Elfquest!


The Unbearable Fleetingness of Things (16/2/2011)

Posted in Critical Failures

This is all Twitter’s fault. If it wasn’t for Twitter I wouldn’t have heard of most of these things in the first place. In the space of the last week or so, I have formed opinions on Military SF (rarely works for me). Martin Amis (glad he’s not my dad), Trading in food futures (my my, how intensely complicated), the New Fantasy Nihilists (I am probably one of them, but I take my inspiration from Conan too, thank-you and I don’t think we were reading quite the same book) and at least two other things that I can’t even remember now. I could have had a lengthy rant about any of those things, but in fact I won’t say anything about any of them, for exactly two reasons. The first is that I’m busy writing stories. The second is more troubling – it takes me so damned long to form a settled opinion on anything these days – whole hours, sometimes even days – that by the time I do, the rest of the world has moved on. Is this age, finally catching up with me or is this wisdom? Is the world moving from reason to knee-jerk instinct or am I just slow?

Diamond Cascade: Episode 50: The Ascent of Stupidity

Posted in DC

So there’s this ancient ring of standing stones and they can teleport you to various other ancient rings of standing stones, scattered around the islands. I know these stones. I’ve heard stories about them from, although not about the teleporting bit but they were always supposed to be magical. There’s this one where some hero or other walks into them at the end of his epic quest and vanishes in a flash of light to be with the gods. Well, apparently not. Apparently he vanished in a flash of light to be on some other part of the island where maybe he could settle down and live a normal life of mild yet inoffensive luxury without people bugging him to go slay this that or the other monster/demon/generic-as-yet-undefined-plague-of-the-land.

Only problem is that these standing stones are at the top of the cliff. And we’re at the bottom. The good news is – there’s a path. The bad news is: its full of traps and riddles and puzzles and death for the unwary, because it’s a way down to the lagoon and so it needs to be protected. The good news again: The people who know where all the traps are and how to solve the puzzles yadda yadda yadda, they’re right here with us. Our friends. No, let’s not be sentimental – people in whose vicinity we’ve managed to spend a night without anyone getting robbed, murdered or other general unpleasantness. And Emmett, who might or might nor be a true actual friend, I’m just not sure any more.

How can you pretend to die in front of someone who looks up to you and then show up again a year later as if it was nothing, just laugh it off as all part of some great plan. Emmett, you’re a JERK. But you’re still my friend. I think. At leas, I’m happy you’re not dead. At the moment.

Anyway, the bad news is that our dear FRIENDS, for whom we are about to depart on a great QUEST full of DANGER from which several of us will NOT RETURN, still think we need to make our own way up their stupid trap-ridden path as some sort of test of our worthiness to die for their stupid trap-ridden cause. Somewhere, there has been a communication error, because I was really quite sure I’d been clear about not wanting to die for anyone’s cause thank-you very much and I’m only doing this for the treasure anyway (and maybe to see if it helps with getting into the hot dragon-lady’s bed) and I DON’T GIVE A STUFF ABOUT YOUR STUPID GAME.

On the other hand, the only other way out of this lake appears to be by sea, The one with the really angry sea-goddess who hates us.

I consider wrapping my Cloak of the Arachnid around my horse and seeing if that means it can Spider-Climb up the cliff while I ride on its back. Just to show them. Screw them and their stupid path. But then it occurs to me that the laws of physics might not be actually totally dead but more lying panting and surly and badly wounded in a corner somewhere, and there’s nothing more dangerous than a cornered and wounded Law of Motion. So maybe not the horse. The path.

I’ll not describe it. Not because that would tell all the hordes of darkness exactly how to get past the traps and riddles, but because it would be dull. All you need to know is: that staircase with all the weak boards on it? Hello? SPIDER-CLIMB! And also smashed now. And that door with the stupid irritating annoying under-your-skin-makes-you-want-to-smash-something smug-assed riddle-speaking Magic Mouth? Well I can’t cast dispel magic and even if I could, I’m sure I wouldn’t be strong enough, but you’re not the only one who can cast Magic Mouth as it happens and so now you can listen to your next stupid riddle to the accompaniment of “All Dragons Are Dicks” by D. Cascade. Really, really, loudly.

There’s other stuff. Someone of it turned out to be really hard to break. And then we get to the top and I realise I’m surrounded by idiot elves I barely even know and that they’re supposed to be my team, and then I get all distracted because she’s there. Damn woman is half-dragon and it’s hard to keep my mouth closed and not drool when I look at her. Not that bright though, not when it comes to people. She could have had me round her little finger with the simplest gift in the world that costs nothing at all. As it is, I wish I’d had the presence of mind to throw her present back at her Ah, well. It IS such a pretty new lute.

Right. I have a purpose. I’m going to be in the position to decide who wins this stupid game of dragons and them I’m going to choose. Suppose I’d better find out something about these poor fools who think they’re going to help me.

What really, REALLY gets me, though, is that we never took our horses with us up their stupid path, so I could have Spider-climbed the cliffs after all.


World Book Day (9/2/2011)

Posted in News

I have done a thing. I don’t know if it’s a stupid thing or a brave thing or a marvellous thing or all three of the above. I have agreed to do ‘a thing’ at Foyles for a class of 11-12 year olds for world book day. I think I’m supposed to be vaguely informative. Entertaining. That sort of thing. Inspiring, gods help us. For an hour. Or more.

I have never done this before.


Diamond Cascade: The Unholy Lagoon of the Bitch Queen

Posted in DC

Little can be said of the Unholy Lagoon, for it was a terrible place, filled with secrets that cannot be spoken and best left far from the hands of men. Let it be known only that Diamond Cascade escaped, his life and the lives of his companions intact, though scattered we became, and what fate befell the mighty warriors who fought beside him he did not know; by the skin of their teeth alone, Diamond Cascade and his friends took the terrible magics that lay in that place and tore a hole though space itself, fleeing in one sorcerous bound across the land to the ruins of once-brave Mektropica!

Tricky, this. Turns out the Unholy Lagoon of the Bitch Queen isn’t quite what it’s cracked up to be. A lot less peril than expected and a lot more don’t-tell-anyone-what’s-actually-here. Old friends were met and uncovered as being not quite the people I thought they were (except the blind elf monster-hunting idiot Tiarth, who is pretty much what he say on the tin, even if he’s now somewhat more suitably employed as the lagoon’s ferryman). And it’s true that Caleb Knight of Something and Crazy Dwarf vanished in the night, and now I’m surrounded by elves. Wizard Daftboy is still here and so are the two idiots from the North Coast and now there’s some fellow who hasn’t even bothered to introduce himself.

No sign of Shifty. Can’t do anything but assume that he went down with the ship. I hope he didn’t but I have to be realistic. So I’m the last one, and Gammersbridge seems such a long time ago. It was nice to see Emmet again, even if he wasn’t as dead as I’ve spent the last year thinking he was and even if it turns out he’s been part of some great plan that’s been playing me all along. I can forgive him that. He was a good friend for a while and he taught me to play. The rest of them, the ones he’s with, now there I’m not sure. How far does it go? How long have they been setting me up for this? I have no idea. If they have anything to do with what happened to the Scales, if they have anything with what happened to Nomonic or any of the rest of my family, well then I might just be sailing back out to sea and diving down and looking to get back that amulet I cast aside.

There’s no sorry, no apology. There are some gifts and some hospitality and an expectation that we’re going to do something, although of course, we’re all free to do as we please. There’s no please, no thank-you, just here’s-some-stuff-get-in-this-teleporter-and-come-back-with-what-I-want. So now we know. It really is the unholy lagoon of the bitch queen. Just not the one I thought it was.


SFX Weekender (02/02/2012)

Posted in News

It’s the SFX Weekender and I’ll be there with some freebies, but for those who can’t make it – well, that’s hardly fair. So, to celebrate the release of King of the Crags in the US and in the UK in small paperback format, I have the following to give away:

  • SIX first edition hardback copies of The King of the Crags
  • TWO ARCs for The King of the Crags
  • And, because I have no idea whatsoever what to do with it, ONE copy of Der Drachenthron (that’s The Adamantine Palace in german, but if you neede me to tell you that, it’s probably not much use…)

Signed and lined if you want, available to anyone in the EU (or worldwide to anyone prepared to paypal me the postage!) If you want one, you have to tell me. And that’s it.

Other stuff at the weekender.

Elsewhere, rewrites are in progress on The Black Mausoleum (early days but going well) and The King’s Assassin (about to have a huge chunk cut out of its middle grrrsnarlgnash).