The Wheelie Bin Guy (28/9/2011)

Posted in News

So I get the kids home form school and there’s this guy in a hi-vis jacket standing outside the house looking a bit lost. Turns out he was here to clean the bins, which would have been all fine with me if I hadn’t already thrown stuff in them again since they were emptied. Anyhow, we get to talking, mostly about where all the rubbish that’s in the bin can go apart from the place it’s supposed to for a bit. For some reason (OK, because of the T-shirt I’m wearing), we get to talking about games and the pros and cons of X-box vs. PS3 vs. PC and I show off how much of a dinosaur (or possibly cheapskate) I am by raising my hand for the PC, my three-year-old version of which continues to kick the X-box’s butt when it comes to graphics and, oh yeah, the games are ten quid cheaper.

So anyway, it gets on to what I do for a living (the wheelie bin guy is, basically, the wheelie bin guy so his side of this conversation is kinda short), and since I practically have a book in my hand through the whole of this conversation (Warlock’s Shadow printed copie arrived today), I get to show off, and then I have my first experience of that conversation. That You-must-be-really-famous-you-must-make-loads-of-money-I’ve-got-a-great-idea-for-a-book-maybe-you’d-like-to-write-it-for-me conversation.

Er, no.

Famous? Well I get to do a panel at Fantasycon (3pm Saturday, but only because I’m fantasy author who’s done some books that happen to have been labelled YA, but it’ll be, er… great. Mostly because of the other panellists). Does that count?

Loaded? Not from writing books any time soon.

But the I’ve-got-a-great-idea-for-a-book-maybe-you’d-like-to-write-it-for-me? It wasn’t a bad idea. Wasn’t fantasy. Wasn’t genre fiction. Wasn’t even fiction. It was quite interesting and we talked about it for a while, but there are so many reasons why something like that wasn’t going to ever work, the primary one being that it wasn’t my story or even remotely related to the stories I like to write.

Everyone has a story in them. I wish Wheelie Bin Guy the best of luck, but he’ll need to do his research. We might talk again and I might even ask a few questions and tell him where to submit to. But no, I will not write your story for you. [1]

[1] Unless you seriously loaded. Or a blood relative. [2]

[2] Oh who am I kidding: If you have enough ice-cream, I have slots free in 2013.

A Sniff of Sodium Hydride (20/9/2011)

Posted in News

Status update. Haven’t had one of these for a while. Why’s that? Oh, right, because I haven’t been WRITING for a while. Stupid summer holidays. Stupid day-job. Ah well, back to normal soon.

It’s become pretty clear that Dragon Queen is going to need a total rewrite. Which is OK, and for which it will be much improved. Partly this has become clear because of what’s going on with The King’s Assassin, which has made a couple of things obvious, and partly because of the Gazetteer. Mental note: write gazetteer first next time <sigh>

The King’s Assassin is close to being ready to submit. The gazetteer is useable and will come with hyperlinks this time (not that any of you care, but it’s for me, not for you, for MEEEE :-) and some serious shit is about to hit a serious writing fan in a week or so whent he day-job finally goes away FOREVER[1] as I beat Dragon Queen into shape for the end of the year and draft out the first third of … uh … some other thing that we shall call the Sodium Hydride project. More of which later.

And finally, summer saw the publication of what will almost certainly be my best-selling words for a very long time – the introduction to the Gollancz 50th birthday edition of Pat Rothfuss’s Name of the Wind. Rumour has it Pat may be coming to the UK in November. You are all to welcome him in your viking suits.

Er… and then I had a bored moment at some point…

003 - Management Meeting 327

[1] A couple of months

Review: The Ritual by Adam Nevill (13/9/2011)

Posted in Critical Failures

Publisher: Pan-MacMillan

ISBN: 978-0-230-75492-8

Four former university friends, now in middle age, go on a walking holiday together in Sweden. Two of them are not, perhaps, as fit as they should be. Certainly not as prepared. It seems obvious, now they are in the wilderness, that the route they had planned is too much of a challenge, so they decide to take a short cut. Just a quick detour through a few miles of primal untouched pine forest and they’ll almost be home. A few miles, that’s all. And that’s where it all starts to go horribly, horribly wrong.

Colours to the mast: Adam Nevill writes the kind of horror I like. His tongue isn’t rammed into his cheek. There are no wry knowing looks. There isn’t much gore and the horror isn’t thrown in your face. Nevill’s approach is subtle and straight and rooted in his characters – a creeping unease, little whispers that something isn’t right the slowly build into an understanding that something is, in fact, terribly wrong. The “monster” is never fully revealed, only ever glimpsed. For the most part, the atmosphere of unease is built and maintained by seeing the world through the eyes and imaginations of story’s protagonists. This is the kind of horror I like, it worked for Nevill’s first book, Apartment 16 (except for the chapter towards the end where Stephen explains everything, grrr, Adam, grrr!) and it works for The Ritual.

For the first half of the book, there are no characters apart from the four hikers themselves. Four middle-aged men with middle-aged lives and middle-aged problems; Nevill picks them up, one by one, and squeezes them until they break. They are lost, short of food and shelter, creeped out by the discovery of various old pagan remains and the growing sense that something is in the forest with them. It’s expertly done, with the focus very much on the characters and their own degeneration, and reminded me of early Stephen King, The Fog in particular. Where Nevill breaks into descriptions of the disquieting relics they find, the language is positively disturbing and crafted to make the reactions of the four protagonists all the more believable as the true nature of the forest and their plight unfolds. This part of The Ritual has some of the best horror writing I’ve read in a very long time.

After the tautness of the first half, I found the second somewhat less compelling. There’s a change of setting and some new characters are introduced along with a lashing of nordic death-metal culture. Neither the setting nor the new characters used in the second half achieve the depth and the claustrophobia of the first. The continued degeneration of the lead character continues to work well, though, the forest itself continues to exude menace and the ending is delightfully ambiguous.

A finely crafted, creepy and disturbing piece of horror.

(originally written for Vector)

Competition (6/9/2011)

Posted in News

About a year ago, I offered an (unspecified) prize for the person to find the most typos in King of the Crags.  The hands down winner won a small slice of immortality, and ‘uncle’ Silvestre now has a small part in The King’s Assassin (out in late 2012) as a sword-master who teaches Berren a lesson or two.

This month’s competition prize is an opportunity to be an Adamantine Man in The Black Mausoleum. Possibly several opportunities. A fiery death is guaranteed, but you’ll appear for at least a few chapters. As usual with these things, I get to veto names that don’t fit. To win one of these cameos, you have to find typos in The Order of the Scales. The prize is nominally for whoever finds the most. Someone on Goodreads claims to have found eight. There may be further prizes for effort if I get several replies.

You can either reply to this post or mail me. Happy hunting.