Diamond Cascade: It’s Not My Fault You Never Asked What I Was Doing For That Hour When I Disappeared Off Somewhere In The Middle Of The Dungeon

Posted in DC

101 Things to Know About Elves Number 15: Apparently blind elven monster-hunters can be remarkably forgetful about exactly where they get all their cure spells.


Acronyms and Appearances (27/4/2011)

Posted in News

There’s a little shorthand I have with my editor. I imagine it’s a common thing. It’s a bit long-winded to refer to a book by it’s full title all the time, especially if you’re exchanging mails about several at once, so I tend to abbreviate them. The Warlock’s Shadow becomes TWS, The Adamantine Palace becomes TAP and so forth. I imagine this sort of thing goes on all the time with authors and their agents and editors; it certainly does in engineering, where it’s generally considered bad form if you haven’t replaced at least half the full words in any mail, memo or customer document with their TLA [1] equivalent.

Just to be clear, then, correct short form for the Order of the Scales is OOTS. It is not TOOTS. Do you call The Order of the Stick TOOTS? No, you do not. Do you refer to anything at all to do with dragons as “TOOTS”? Not if you don’t want to be burned and eaten. OOTS, right. Are you listening? you know who you are.

Anyway, this was supposed to be a quick note about signing appearances. Just needed to vent there for a moment. Forthcoming opportunities to acquired signed copies of OOTS-without-a-leading-T are as follows:

As part of the Chainsaw Gang I’ll be doing a signing session at Redbridge Library on 21st May, 2-3pm.

I’ll be at the Centre of the Universe Writtle Library on 4th June, 2.30pm

I’ll be at Alt.Fiction on 25th-26th June

Oh, and some little thing at Heffers in Cambridge on Wednesday 11th May, 6:30-8:30. First chance to buy copies of Order of the Scales. One or two other authors may be present, although as far as I know, neither China Mieville, Steve Erikson, Peter Hamilton, Trudi Canavan, Alex Scarrow, Ian Whates, Paul Stewart, Chris Riddell, Jasper Kent, Philip Reeve, Moira Young or Sophia McDougall have written about dragons. But I don’t know that for sure, so don’t write them off. And maybe Krakens count? Also a few of them may have won an award or two…

[1] If you don’t know what that means, you’re not a software engineer.

[1] OK, Three Letter Acronym. We have E(xtended)TLAs as well. And ETLAG(losarries) too. And probably, once you’re a name-level ninja in the business, JETLAG too.

Diamond Cascade: VALE SMASH!

Posted in DC

Deep in the perilous depths of the darkest places beneath the earth where the most dire and foul creatures of evil dwell, there Diamond Cascade and his companions came upon the last resting place of the great and terrible dragon-orb, whose unstoppable power would Nothing At All. Little did Diamond Cascade expect to take such a treasure Move Along – Nothing To See unchallenged, yet even he could not have imagined the HORRORS, the FATHOMLESS EVIL, the DIABOLICAL TERROR that guarded this fabulous orb Absolutely Nothing At All Of Any Consequence. Undead horrors beyond descriptions, skeletal creatures whose bones creaked and clattered, rotted shambling things, all fell before the irresistible edge of Diamond Cascade’s blade. Yet these were but the beginning, for deep in the bowels of the earth lay the great SHADE OF EVIL, a formless apparition  so dire and hideous and charged with Dark Power that only Diamond Cascade’s blade could touch it. Long and terrible was duel, and terrible were the wounds given as Diamond Cascade’s companions bravely sought to distract the horror even knowing they could not harm it; yet with the aid of these heroic elves, the foul Prince of Darkness was slain and Diamond Cascade stood victorious.

101 Things to Know About Elves Number 11: Turns out that elves aren’t the bunch of dandelion-eating squealy-girl surrender-monkeys you might think.

101 Things to Know About Elves Number 12: Apparently, the elvish version of Bull’s Strength also comes with an  urge to wander about bellowing incoherently and smashing stuff up like you’ve just turned into a Minotaur that is almost irresistible. Apparently this includes even hideous soul-sucking undead things from which any sane person (although apparently not elf) would RUN AWAY!

101 Things to Know About Elves Number 13: Turns out it’s remarkably easy to “forget” that you have a magic dagger if you’re an elf. Or maybe that’s just a rogue thing.

101 Things to Know About Elves Number 14: Even an elven monster-hunter who’s blind, fighting an incorporeal creature that doesn’t make any sound, using nothing but a funny-looking dagger that he’s only had in his hand for six seconds, will still manage to steal your kill AND carve his initials into the body at the last minute, taking all the glory and leaving you looking like a prawn. (but Bards get the last laugh, Tearth, and you are so EDITED OUT!)

Anyway, how exactly does an incorporeal creature shriek when you stick it with a magic sword? Do they have incorporeal vocal chords?


Nothing Better to Do (18/4/2011)

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Until Easter I’ve given myself a little downtime. After Eastercon I’ll be working on The King’s Assassin and Prince of Swords until summer, but I thought hey – a few days off, right? And there’s that Genre for Japan story to write.

In the meantime, here’s a couple of tasters for your amusement: For the Order of the Scales and for The Warlock’s Shadow. Enjoy.

The Order of the Scales – Taster

Posted in Excerpts

They hate us. They fear us. They revile us. They outlaw us. And as they do these things, they forget what we truly are. But we do not. We remember. For we tamed dragons.

Diamond Cascade: Some Other Reasons Not to be the Only One With A Magic Sword

Posted in DC

I suppose, really, we should have seen the legions of undead horrors coming. I mean, in hindsight, think about it: you’re off to raid the lost and buried remains of an ancient civilisation. Specifically, you;re off to raid the lost and buried bit where they kept a really pokey magic item which, for reasons that are either rather obscure or, more likely, totally fucking lethal, no one else has managed to either find or pillage for a good few hundred years. There’s probably a checklist for such expeditions that read something like this:

Ye Olde Guide to raiding ancient tombes, cryptes, lost civilisationes and generally anywhere that’s undergrounde and longe-forgottene:

Dear Adventurers:

Four things are going to try and kill you on such an expedition:

One: Starvation. The thing about Ye Olde Loste Forgottene Tombes is that they wouldn’t be exactly loste and forgottene if they were half an hour on a pony from a handy Mescos[1] Express. Bring either food, water and someone who can hunt or else bring a Cleric who can Create Food and Water. And look after him/her.

Two: Look, Loste Forgottene Tombes tend to fall down at inconvenient moments. Bring a shovel and a dwarf. And healing potions.

Three: Generally speaking, Anciente Artifactes of Greate Powere aren’t just chucked in a cave with some dead guy and a ‘hey-ho, that’s the end of that.’ Loste Tombes draw Raiders of Loste Tombes and the architects of said Loste Tombes are well aware of this. Expect traps, both magical and mundane. Equip yourself with wizards who can sense magic, elves who have a knack of noticing hidden doors and rogues who will open them. And a cleric.

Four: Loste Tombes are the equivalent of Working Mens Clubs for the undead. Even if your particular Loste Tombe didn’t have any in right from the start (and what self-respecting Loste Tombe architect would ignore such a classic of the genre), it is unlikely to be more than a few days before the first homeless skeletons and zombies have moved in, claimed squatters rights, start playing loud music and generally upsetting the neighbours. Bring plenty of magic swords and a cleric. And a spare cleric.

Actually, there’s six, because there’s also the getting there (see Ye Olde Guide series on Crossing Anciente Jungles, Forestes and/or Desertes) and then the getting back (see the same plus Ye Olde Cliché Guide to How is it the Villaine is Always Awaiting Ye Outside When Ye’ve Just Retrieved An Loste Anciente Artifacte?).

Anyway, where were we? Oh yes, the soul-sucking wraith that’s wafting towards us and us not having anyone who can even spell the name of a half-decent god let alone call on the powers of one and only having the one magic sword. Did I mention the wizards nearly used up all their spells already?


[1] Ye Olde 24-hour adventurer supply convenience store


Genre for Japan (Again) (13/4/2011)

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Over here, the dust has settled and the news media has largely moved on. Over in Japan the dust may have settled too, but for the people whose lives were washed away, I imagine it will be a very long time before they, too, can move on.

In the big scheme of things, the money raised by the Genre for Japan auction probably doesn’t seem like very much. I’d like to think it means more than just the money, though. Any one of us putting a hand in our pocket alone and fishing out whatever loose change we’ve got, that’s not going to make a difference, but the sum of all of us does, and for each individual, it’s a little message of support. A tiny signpost raised to say ‘I see your need. I see your suffering.’ Put aside the actual money – I see it as the difference between struggling to put your own life and those around you back together on your own, and doing it in a metaphorical stadium-of-life with millions of distant supporters cheering you on. I hope, somehow, the people whose lives have been literally washed away somehow get to hear a little of that voice.

I’d like to think it’ll mean more for those who supported the auction, either as bidders or donors, too. Some of you will be appearing in stories over the next couple of years. I hope there’s a mention in the acknowledgements of each of those characters and how they got to be there. For my own part, I’ll now be writing a short story about a dragon a girl called Lyna. I’ll be doing it for someone for whom english isn’t even their first language, I’m going to thoroughly enjoy it, and when it’s done, it’ll be online for anyone to read. Might even go looking for some art and stuff…

So here’s to you, Genre for Japan, Amanda, Louise, Jenni, Ro, Alasdair and Robert, I salute you.

Diamond Cascade: What’s It Got In Its Librarieses

Posted in DC

Obviously not a “Knock” spell, because that would just be far too convenient, and clearly what the world needs is for me and the rent-an-elf posse to wander aimlessly across half a continent in search of one, get confused, distracted and probably completely forget what we were looking for in the first place.

There are some creatures of various sorts. Nothing remotely heroic occurred. There is a library. Nothing remotely useful was found. And then there was the floating orb of dragon control nothing else interesting

101 Things to Know About Elves Number 9: Just because the type of undead horror technically known as ‘ghoul’ has a venom on its claws that causes paralysis to all humanoid creatures except elves doesn’t mean that the moment you surround yourselves with ghoul-bashing elves, you won’t walk straight into a posse of things that are almost exactly the same but whose venom DOES paralyse elves. We shall call these ghauls and imagine them to have a fondness for cheese, garlic and speaking wiz a beet of a straaanj ak-seeeent. When this happens, it is best not to be involved in a deep discussion with the only elf capable of swinging a sword in a coherent manner about an old hat you’ve just found and rather removed from the breaking action.

101 Things to Know About Elves Number 10: Elvish monster-hunters are fearsome swordsmen, whose skill and talent would strike fear into the heart of any man, even if the elvish monster-hunter is, for some reason, blind. Elves do not question the career choices of their visually impaired brothers, as that would be offensive and rude and the elvish nature is such that all are encouraged to pursue whatever career choices call to them. Nevertheless, it is wise to be aware of this relaxed elvish attitude to both pragmatism and wisdom. While it may be true that it “all balances out in the end over the average elvish lifetime” and when you’ve got that many hundreds of years to recover then almost anything can be written off as a “learning experience,” it is generally considered rude not to mention to said visually impaired monster-hunter that the reason he has no idea why all his friends are running away screaming is that he can’t SEE the entirely SILENT soul-sucking wraith that’s wafting towards him.

It’s also rude not to mention low beams.


The Black Mausoleum (8/4/2011)

Posted in News

There’s Karatos, the alchemist sentenced to death for being what she is. There’s Siff in the next cell. His death sentence is for killing four soldiers with his bare hands even though he has no memory of how he did it. There’s Skjorl, the Adamantine Man whose job it is to watch over them.

Thing is, though, Siff knows something. He knows something that might just change the fate of the world and right now, any change at all is looking like a good thing. So Kataros has to get him out, so he can show her what he’s found, and never mind that he’s likely going to stab her in the back the first chance he gets. To get him out, she needs Skjorl, even if the Adamantine Man would rather stab himself than help someone like Siff, and that’s only the start of what he’d do to her, given the chance.

And then there’s the dragon. The dragon doesn’t hate any of them. It’s a dragon. It simply wants to eat them.

The Black Mausoleum. Someone’s going to die.

Submitted this week.

Diamond Cascade: Don’t Open the Door that says Do Not Open This Door

Posted in DC

Travelling through the wilderness, seeking the lost treasure with mighty spells and all his wiles, after many great adventures, Diamond Cascade came at last upon the near-buried ruins of ancient Mektropica, a vast and mighty citadel that once rule the world, and yet of which nothing more remains than the spire of a single ancient bell-tower, jutting from the sand. Thus began Diamond Cascade’s last great adventure!

Yadda yadda. Look, we found this tribesman bloke off on some becoming-a-man sort of quest thing, asked directions to the nearest ancient ruin and it turned out is was a couple of days a way and he was sort of heading that way anyway so he took us right to it. But the stuff about searching for months and mighty spells and so forth makes for a better story, so we’ll stick with that. And the tribesman bloke got eaten by the land-shark anyway.

101 Things to Know About Elves Number 7: When putting together a bunch of rogues and low-rent wizards (never mind the blind monster-hunter) to knock off the forgotten ruins of some ancient civilisation, elves are a good proposition. They have an uncanny knack of finding doors that others would prefer to remain hidden. However . . .

101 Things to Know About Elves Number 8: Standard elvish wizard 1.0 does come with ‘Detect Magic’ spells pre-installed, but NOT does not come with a ‘Knock’ installation book. When putting together a bunch of rogues and low-rent wizards (never mind the blind monster-hunter) to knock off the forgotten ruins of some ancient civilisation, ensure that your wizards have either received a Service Pack 2.2 upgrade or purchase the Tomb-Raiding spell-casting bundle.

Dispel magic would also have been useful, but we’re talking seriously low-rent wizards here.