Too Dark Park (7/12/2010)

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It’s Christmas. The time for cheer. For giving. For forgiveness and happy endings…

Oh. Wait. Wrong author.

Having finished the editorial rewrite of Order of the Scales last week and finally managed a draft for The Warlock’s Shadow that doesn’t suck last night, this is not the season for joy at all, at least not fiction-land. I wonder, as I start the rewrites for the Warlock’s Shadow, whether this is going too far. It’s not horrific in a gore-fest sort of way or a creepy sort of way, but it’s definitely dark. Ah well – that’s what editors are for.

In the meantime, to get in the right sort of seasonal mood, the Chainsaw Gang bring you the Twelve Days of Christmas, reworked to be filled with chainsawy goodness. We’ve bludgeoned a bunch of bloggers half to death, cut pieces out of their souls[1] and threatened them with various forms of despicable un-life until they agreed to let us write stuff on their websites. We might also have answered a few questions about writing horror for a YA audience while we were at it, but the main point was to get that song out there, to be revealed day by day in an exquisite striptease, until at last it is revealed in all its terrible glory and the great old ones are called back to own the earth once more [2]. It’s kicked off already (yes, too late to stop us now, bwahaha) at My Favourite Books and will then be infesting the blogsphere like the bubonic plague:

So off you go an have a bloody good Christmas.

[1] That was a spoiler for The Warlock’s Shadow, that was.

[2] Karaoke was also discussed, but none of us could cope with that much SAN loss.

First person to make sense of the title of this post gets a prize.

The Lemon of Honour (2/11/10)

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After the near miss at this year’s Gemmells, it’s about time something of mine won an award. So here it is. The prestigious… LEMON OF HONOUR


Not, as you may expect, for any of my currently published pieces but for a little one-side of A4 dashed off last weekend during the launch party for fellow gang-member  Alex Bell’s Lex Trent vs. The Gods. An award for the most fanciful, most imaginative, most…

…most biggest pile of utter rubbish as to why the killer in our murder mystery for the weekend had actually done the deed (although I did at least get WHO bit of whodunnit right).

I’ll not say who did it, but I will say that my AWARD-WINNING contribution did include the words “Master of Disguise” at least twice… Only time will tell whether the editorial staff from Hodder Headline were truly as impressed as they seemed, but let’s put it this way – I’ll not be straying far from the phone for the next few days[1] and I wouldn’t be at all surprised it we’re seeing some BIG NEWS soon[2]…

(with thanks to the cast from ItsMurder)


Meanwhile, its National Novel Writing Month apparently, so for no reason other than to give myself an ulcer and annoy the hell out of everyone around me, I’ve decided to try and finish the first draft of The Black Mausoleum by the end of November instead of the end of December. I’m also going to be working on a short children’s book simply for the sheer hell of it; anyone fancy doing some illustrations that would be marvellous, but it’ll be pro bono work, so I’m guessing that’ll be a no then. If it’s any good, it’ll go up on the site as a freebie some time after Christmas.

Another week, another review: apparently the Thief-Taker’s Apprentice is very well written and full of action and adventure. So I’ll forgive the repeatedly mis-placed apostrophe, Fringe. Tsk.

[1] Not

[2] also Not

More Chainsaw (26/10/2010)

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Over on Steve Feasy’s blog, Alexander Gordon Smith explains why we’d all gang up on him if we were ever stuck on a desert island together. Most of the gang will be at Foyles on the 31st for the store’s Angels vs. Demons event, which I’m rather sad to be missing, even as Joe Public.

I have seen the draft cover of The Order of the Scales, and I that pretty much made my week last week. I’ll put it up when it’s been. I pride myself on not buying books for their covers EVER, so it’s just as well I’ll be getting my author copies of this one. The dragons… The colours… I can’t stop looking at it.

Excuse me. Have to, er… go do something else now.

The Hand of Ming (22/10/10)

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Caught on camera in the alleys behind Downing Street…


Equally dubious going on over here, as Alex Bell interviews Sam Enthoven for the Chainsaw Gang

Back to Work (19/10/2010)

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Sadly there’s not so much fun to be had with this week’s collection of reviews, but one of them comes from a site called Ranting Dragon, so they’re immediately in my good books:

“Though you will immediately notice the depth of this world, it has not been given the attentions it deserves yet. However, that is what gives The Adamantine Palace its tempo, and I’m unsure if that’s such a bad thing.” Ranting Dragon. Interesting comment. Haven’t seen anyone say anything quite like that before, but that’s definitely the choise I was making when I wrote it.

Also, what amounts to a ’suitability for its target audience’ review for Thief-Taker from Readplus in Australia: The novel does contain positive messages and meaningful themes for teenagers about growing-up too fast and wanting to live in an adult world before they are fully prepared to deal with the full consequences.

There’s an interview up at Literary Musings, in which you can find out one or two little snippets about where the dragon books are going, although I should point out that nothing is certain until it’s published. In a possibly more interesting interview (in that it involves monsters and eating people), Sarah Pinborough interviews Alex Milway on her blog today. In theory.

Have finally started writing again after what’s been month off altogether now. The Black Mausoleum rumbles onwards once more. And yes, I’ll put up an page for it in the bibliography at some point. Maybe when it’s done.

Sarwat Chadda and Devil’s Kiss (18/10/2010)

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It’s not long since I joined up with the Chainsaw Gang experiment, but I’ve now read Sarwat Chadda’s Devil’s Kiss (Sorry, Retribution Falls, but he had a VIP pass).

Devil's Kiss

Billi SanGreal is the first girl in the Knights Templar. She might not like it, but that’s the way it is, the way it’s been since she stumbled into something she shouldn’t when she was ten. Then again, maybe she didn’t have much choice. Her father is the Templar Master, and her mother was murdered by monsters.

At fifteen, her life is a rigorous and brutal round of weapons practice, demon killing and occult lore. Lessons and a whole lot of bruises, whether she likes it or not. Everyone wants something from her. Her father wants another warrior for the order. His right-hand, Gwaine, wants her gone. The enigmatic Mike Harbinger, he wants her phone number. Even the devil himself wants something from Billi SanGreal, but there’s not too many people giving a thought to what Billi wants – a slice of a normal life, please.

Trouble is, when you’re born and bred a demon-slayer, when you’re the most kick ass weapon-wielding heroine around, normal isn’t on the menu.

I am Michael, the Angel of Death. It was I that rained fire on Gomorrah … I am God’s killer and I will not be judged by the children of clay.”

Billi spat in his face.

Billi SanGreal. Like Buffy. But with teeth.

If you’ve been following any of the Chainsaw gang at all, you’ll know by now that we’ve been asking each other a few questions. Here’s what Sarwat had to say:

What’s your favourite book? The Hobbit. It’s the reason I write fantasy.

What’s your favourite monster? The minotaur. I love the old Greek myths and this is the one I remember best from my childhood. Tragic and terrifying. I can really picture the dark, bone-littered labyrinth with the massive beast-headed monster at its heart.

Favourite bad-ass monster-slayer? Buffy. She’s got the look, the Scooby Gang and the attitude. And it’s the title, ‘SLAYER’.

(no surprises in that answer, once you’ve read Devil’s Kiss)

If you could make a pact with the Devil, what would you want in exchange for your immortal soul? An afro. I know it’s shallow and superficial and I should be wishing for world peace or something, but an afro would be very cool.

The Chainsaw Gang are all trapped on a desert island with no food. Who would you eat first and why? Alex Milway. Young, succulent, not too fatty. Some onions, garlic and maybe a touch of corriander, tumeric and yoghurt I think he’d make a lovely curry. With rice, of course.

And remember the great Chainsaw Gang Giveaway. Earn your chances to win the entire chainsaw library by commenting on our blogs, tweeting about us or writing on our facebook pages.

More Chainsaw Goodness (13/10/2010)

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Up and ready for you: Sam Enthoven interviews Alex Bell. Everything you wanted to know about the creator of Lex Trent, including how he likes to turn people to stone, and who she’d most like to eat!

Best Review Ever Not (12/10/10)

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The next stop in the Chainsaw Gang tour: Alex Gordon Smith reviews interviews David Gatward.

And an assortment of review for Thief-taker that have piled up over the last few weeks.

“…Berren’s imaginary city is full of recognizable people and emotions all of which are brilliantly conveyed in Stephen Deas’s spare and powerful storytelling”

“any reader, young or old, should give this a try and see what I am talking about.” Literary Musings

“…gripped me enough that I want to read the sequel! Great, unique storyline with well-crafted characters.” Chicklish

One from Australia too: “The characters are interesting and even mysterious … a good, well-written story for teens.” Ysfetsos

But the world is a big place, filled with diverse opinion. “The Thief-Taker’s Apprentice’ by Stephen Deas is another example of mediocrity that shouldn’t have been let past the editor’s desk,” Yes. Stupid editor. Blame him, but don’t worry, the hose is quickly turned on me. We could also call it “very soggy and misshapen cake, or book, depending on how far we’re taking this analogy.” Why? Well because it plot has been “thrown against the wall like the proverbial pasta to see if it’ll stick” with “one contrivance after another” and “Nothing is explained, everyone acts entirely unrealistically, and by the end of the book the characters you have been reading have as much depth as a sheen of water on the driveway.

Crikey, Fantasy Book Review. That sure sounds like a that sucked as a reading experience. And I kept you up late and made you miss sleep and everything, even though you skimmed and skipped large chunks? I do apologise.

Reviewed by an aspiring fantasy author who, I guess (I hope!) reckons he could do a lot better. Well go on then. Let that wasted evening goad you into achieving something and not be wasted after all.

Chainsaw Gang: Interviews and Giveaways (11/10/2010)

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Over the course of the next two weeks, members of the gang are going to be interviewing each other on their blogs:

Later TODAY: Sarwat Chadda interviews Sarah Pinborough

Tuesday 12th Alexander Gordon Smith interviews David Gatward

Wednesday 13th Sam Enthoven interviews the inimitable Alex Bell

Monday 18th: Sarwat Chadda will be interviewed HERE, and I shall be reviewing Devil’s Kiss (which I have been reading this week and look, there’s two things it doesn’t take much of a brain to realise don’t mix – teenagers and Secrets With Which Man Was Not Meant To Meddle).

Tuesday 19th Sarah Pinborough interviews Alex Milway

Wednesday 20th I explain to Alex Milway exactly which of member of the gang I would most like to eat.

Thursday 21st Alex Bell interviews Sam Enthoven

Friday 22nd David Gatward interviews Steve Feasey

Monday 25th Steve Feasey interviews Alexander Gordon Smith

William Hussey and Jon Mayhew are too busy doing things like actually writing their books to be engaging with such tomfoolery, but who knows? They might still get eaten.

To make this a bit more interesting, there are various opportunities to win prizes (largely that’s going to mean free books). I’ll be giving away something from my bag-o-prizes to anyone who sufficiently amuses me. BUT, probably much MORE exciting and a lot less fickle, there will also be the opportunity to win the entire Chainsaw Library (or at least, the latest book from each of us).

Apparently.To win the Chainsaw Library you need to score a token. Each token goes into a vast hat at the end of the competition and one name will come out. The lucky victim will receive signed copies off each member of the Chainsaw Gang. You can earn yourself multiple tokens, so make sure you visit each and every blog. It’ll be entertaining AND educational.

+1 token if you link the blog/website to yours (per blog)

+2 tokens if you stick our Chainsaw banner up somewhere

+1 token if you comment on the blog (per blog, but only for the first comment on each blog)

+1 token if you tell me who your favouriate SF/F/Horror villain is and why

+1 token if you tweet a link to this post (but I won’t know you’ve done that unless you include @stephendeas in your tweet, so make sure you do that!)

Note that each of the blogs is awarding tokens for much the same things, but not necessarily exactly the SAME things.

The closing date of the competition is Friday 5th November. The Chainsaw Library competition is open to UK residents only (really sorry about that!); any extra prizes I might whimsically award will be up to my discretion.

Anyway, Sarwat’s interview with Sarah is ripe and ready, so get commenting!

Chainsawy Goodness (8/10/2010)

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When I think of chainsaws in films, for some reason I always end up with the iconic Medieval Dead image and that scene in Smokin’ Aces where one of the neo-nazi hitmen ends up sitting on his own chainsaw. What WAS that film on? However, after various things I’ve said about dragons being emasculated in fantasy literature, the following kinda caught my eye: “We’ve decided to spread the word that in amongst the shelves of angsty, pale and love-lorn undead and eco-friendly lycanthropes there is blood, there is dread, there is fear.” And “it’s time that monsters got back to doing what they do best, being MONSTROUS.”

Well quite.

The Chainsaw Gang is setting out to be “the new wave of writers delivering old school horror,” and while I’m not a horror writer and never will be, I’m all for monsters being properly monstrous. Hence the Chainsaw Gang has become the new wave of horror writers with a fantasy author tacked on. Or something like that.

Put another way, Alex Bell invited me in and you don’t say no to Alex.

Now and then, therefore, there will be posts about Chainsaw Gang events and schedules of where and when the various members will be doing signings and so-forth. For now, let’s start with the who’s who:

Alex Bell. Author of The Ninth Circle, Jasmyn and most recently, Lex Trent vs. The Gods

The Gang’s founder and grand master, Sarwat Chadda, author of the Devil’s Kiss and Dark Goddess. I shall be reviewing Devil’s Kiss in a week or so along with a short interview with Sarwat, during which he will reveal which of the gang he would most like to fall upon and devour.

Sam Enthoven. Demons, death and destruction. Innocent people turned into mind-controlled psycho-killers, like the good Lord intended.

Steve Feasey. You can never, ever, have enough werewolves (eh, Mark?)

David Gatward: The Dead, The Dark and The Damned.

William Hussey. Modern science and ancient horrors.

Jon Mayhew. Spooks. Demons. Knife-throwing heroines. Enter dark, fog-bound Victorian London and the awesome Mortlock.

Alex Milway. Yetis: Seriously under-represented in modern genre literature, but Alex is putting that right.

Sarah Pinborough (aka Sarah Silverwood): Whose stories have a way of burrowing under your skin and then eating you from the inside, rather like those Scarab beetles in The Mummy.

Alexander Gordon Smith. Author of the Furnace series which is about a prison built miles underground and run by demons.

On Saturday 23rd October, most of the Chainsaw Gang (but not me) will be at the Crystal Palace Children’s Book Festival so you’ll have Alex Milway, Alex Bell, Alexander Gordon Smith, Sam Enthoven, Jon Mayhew, Steve Feasey and Sarwat. Other events will apparently follow in Norwich and Richmond. However…  In the next couple of weeks there’ll be a lot of activity and a BIG competition being run across the many blogs of the members of the gang, kicking off on Sarwat’s blog on Monday.