World Fantasy Con – Unexpected Journeys (02/10/2013)

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I shall be at World Fantasy Con at the end of the month, a long established intention and a fact of great excitement to at least one person. As things stand I won’t be doing any panels, despite last-ditch efforts to establish a panel on why author should regularly interact via the internet with those who comment on their work and damn well comment on any review they damn well please. Fortunately this means propping up the bar for longer hours and probably having exactly the same discussion only with beer and thus louder.

However, I can announce that I’ll also be appearing in a slightly more useful and written form as part of the BFS anthology Unexpected Journeys and in the form of a short story, The Sin Eater, a brief vignette of revenge and wickedness and redemption and in which dragons are not mentioned even once. See, I can if I try…

The other stories are:

A Thief in the Night by Anne Lyle
Seeds by Benjamin Tate
Steer a Pale Course by Gail Z Martin
The Groppler’s Harvest by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Oak, Broom and Meadowsweet by Liz Williams
King Harvest Has Surely Come by Chaz Brenchley
The Queen’s Garden by Kate Elliott

The anthology is edited by Juliet McKenna and rather than have me waffle about it any more, you might fancy reading her thoughts and observing how I totally stole that list. You can also see the cover artwork there.

The anthology is only available (I think) to BFS members and WFC attendees (that may be a redundant statement). The BFS have a few months of exclusive rights to the story before it revert, after which I reckon there’s a fair chance it’ll show up here as a freebie.

Test Card (18/7/2011)

Posted in News

A full first draft of Dragon Queen, the other sequel to The Order of the Scales now exists. Proofing of The Warlock’s Shadow has finished. I shall be at the Debenham Arts Festival on the 23rd of this month. I may be repeating myself. If I am, that’s because it’s a . . .

a . . .


Well it is of your news coverage is confined to the narrow limits of how many words I, specifically, have laid down on various works in progress. Unfortunately this is only going to get worse as, save for the occasional re-drafts of The King’s Assassin and Dragon Queen, the bulk of the next six months will be dedicated to Secret Project G about which little can be said except that it’s secret and involves the letter G. Although thast might be a code-letter. Add to that the demise (for now) of Diamond Cascade, and there could be weeks when I don’t blog at all.  To avoid this horror from beyond imagination, I have made a series of

T E S T      C A R D S

001 - Intro splash

Further may occur when I can’t think of anything useful

Promotional Artwork for Alt.Fiction (2/6/2011)

Posted in Critical Failures

Unstable Authors

Alt.Fiction: 25-26th June. Somewhere in Derby. Beware of deranged writers trying to surf large rocks through the sky.

Yes, yes, lazy I know – next week you can have a short story and some proper blogging.

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.

World Book Day (9/2/2011)

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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.


Signing (7/10/2010)

Posted in News

Waterstones in Haywards Heath, 11am, Saturday 16th October.

Yes, I know that’s not much of a post. Oooh look – a spider.

About the size of my hand and living outside my front door for the last week

About the size of my hand and living outside my front door for the last week

The Horror, The Horror (18/5/2010)

Posted in News

It’s been a bit of a week. The Write Fantastic 5th anniversary seemed to go well enough to merit a repeat performance. So did the Forbidden Planet signing and last weekend’s Lincoln Book Festival was fun too – cool to have a genre fiction panel at something like that, and Lincoln has a lovely old city centre (just be warned that when they call a road “Steep Hill”, they mean it). Signed some books, met a few fans for long enough to actually hold a conversation, and came away from the week with two lingering thoughts:

  1. I should assess my audience carefully before mentioning roleplaying games on panels.
  2. I think I’m going to keep count of the gender ratio of the dedications I’m asked to make, because ladies, so far I think you’re kicking ass. It’s Jehal, isn’t it…

Now changing genre to horror: There’s a video interview of me for a US cable TV channel that we did a couple of months back. It’s airing this week in the Michigan area, but for anyone desperately keen to see me look uncomfortable in front of a camera, you can catch it here at Interview 35. Look mom, I’m on TV!

There’s also a couple more reviews of TAP

“…an absorbing, satisfying read with plenty left in the locker for the future instalments … Dragons are back at the top of the food chain, in all their fire-breathing primal glory.” Speculative Horizons

“Short chapters, with alternating points of view, set a cracking pace from the outset. The language is vibrant with dialogue that moves the story briskly along, yet revealing the levels of political machinations throughout.” Temple Library Reviews

One day I’ll stop obsessively tracking these down. One day. Really. I will.


Work continues on The Warlock’s Shadow. Not much more to be said about that. The noveletto The Thief-Taker’s Blade will be the basis for the short game I plan to run at the UK Games Expo; after that, it may appear somewhere.

Today, though, the sithlings and I stuck little plastic undead monsters together. There were bits left over (you know how it goes with the undead – spare heads and arms all over the place). The sithlings stuck them on anyway. Serriously, if you want an undead monstrosity made of assorted human body parts to give you nightmares, leave it to the unfettered imagination of a seven year old.

Four Mighty Pens (and Me) (5/5/2010)

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FORBIDDEN PLANET and Gollancz Publishing are delighted to be hosting [1] an open-format, multi-author signing event at 6pm on Thursday May 13th at Forbidden Planet 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London. I may have mentioned this once or twice already. Under cover of some real authors (MD Lachlan, John Meaney, Sarah Pinborough and Adam Roberts), I will be hiding in a dark corner somewhere, occasionally sneaking out to steal all the canapes[2]. Apparently there will be NO TABLES BEHIND WHICH WE CAN HIDE!

Since this is the first one of these for me, I thought for a while I’d try to do something special. That was too difficult, so instead I’ve designed a set of  crappy little stick figures, found some pithy little quotes to go with them and made the little collage below. Come on the 13th and I’ll deface your books with one of them. Available this one time only. Unless you buy me beer at the next one. Or you ask nicely at Eastercon. Or I just forget. There are also exactly one of each available through Doodled Books

Speaking of beer, the signing ends at 7pm. It seems highly probable on past performance that a trip to the pub will begin at 7.01.

[1] See how King of the Crags is top of the bill there? That’s the power of alphabetisation, that is.

[2] No, there won’t actually be canapes. There might be chips later.


Appearances (10/3/2010)

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Start with the important stuff, right: There’s plenty of author interviews kicking around out there, but it’s not all that opften you get an interview with a muse. Check it out. Check out also the reviews for TAP…

The rewrite of Thief-Taker went back to Gollancz a couple of days back. I’m supposed to be back working on Order of the Scales, but frankly, a short break is in order. OOTS is going to be some heavy work between now and the end of June when it’s supposed to be ready, and I need to catch my breath for a moment, if only to take stock for a moment of how busy I suddenly seem to have become. It all started with this:

Waterstones book of the month

which very quickly turned into this:


Forgive them, for a moment, for getting the title of King of the Crags slightly wrong…

Then there’s this: The Write Fantastic’s fifth anniversary event in Oxford (St Hilda’s College no less, which is about the one college I actually recognise in Oxford) on Sunday 9th May. For anyone who doesn’t know, The Write Fantastic exists to promote fantasy fiction to non-fantasy readers, particularly younger readers.

The after that, there’s the Lincoln Book Festival, where there’s going to be a panel (1pm, Sunday 16th) on genre fiction supplied by the all-powerful John Jarrold. Fantasy, I am your representative, so you’d better all be nice to me for the next couple of months.

Finally there’s the UK Games Expo, on the 5th & 6th June. Might well be there. And of course, there’s Eastercon!

And finally finally,  I got sent these fan-pics of The Sorcerer by Michael Peinkofer! Just goes to show that certain cover-art conventions aren’t limited to the English-speaking editions…

Dragons on tour - Germany

SFX Weekender (8/2/10)

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Meh. There’s blogs aplenty to tell you about the SFX Weekender. Here, here and here, for example. For those who had to stay overnight in the actual chalets, I offer my apologies. There was an attempt to burn them down about fifteen years ago when the place hosted Euro-Gencon, but my pyromantic powers had not reached their peak at the time and the effort failed. As for the rest, I can’t really comment, having spent most of the time in the bar with the other Gollancz authors, cheering each other on through the readings and interviews there.

Readings. Yes, and in a bar. Having them there caused some debate, mostly of the ‘it’s too bloody loud in here’ variety, but I’m not so sure about that. I’d draw the line at having to complete with the pub televisions showing the six nations at the same time as someone’s trying to read aloud – that was a bit harsh, even for Science Fiction authors – but the basic idea, I thought, was sound. Would I rather listen to someone read and talk with a pint in my hand and a bit of atmosphere, or would I rather listen in a sterile room tucked away in some part of the hotel that I can’t even find (yes, Fantasycon, I’m looking at you)? I’ll take the bar. As for the reading… I can understand why the background noise annoys some people, but set against that there’s the ebb and flow of people, because as panels and movies end (and we readers where certainly a mere sideshow in all of this), the bar is the natural place for people to go. So they come, and we were there to entertain them. So not all bad, and I felt we were honouring older traditions of story-telling by reading in the bar. Sure, some people weren’t interested. There was talking and noise in the background. But people came, and it was down to us and our stories to be interesting enough to keep them. It’s not the same as reading to a room where everyone has come specifically for the person who’s going to read, but I don’t see that makes it better, only different.

I, however, had none of this to contend with. What I had was Tom Baker on the main stage somewhere above me, and you can guess who got the better of that one. My thanks to those who stayed and listened anyway, particularly the two or three people who weren’t from the Gollancz or SFX crew.

I had fun, but then that’s a pretty easy thing to say when all you’ve got to do is show up at the seaside, sit in a bar all day and be offered drinks and Thai takeaway while watching the occasion sith lord order Doritos from the bar. I mean, really, what’s not to like? So apart from opinions on giving readings, go ask someone else what it was like.

Dragonmeet Revisited (1/12/09)

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Despite a concerted effort by Transport For London to make it as difficult as possible to get to by closing both the entire Circle Line and most of the District Line last Saturday, Dragonmeet last weekend was a blast. I don’t know how many people were there (many hundreds), but it seemed huge.

The panel of fantasy-authors-who-game (myself, Mark Barrowcliffe (The Elfish Gene and others), Jonny Nexus (Game Night) and the John Steed of fantasy, Dave Devereux (Hunters Moon, Eagle Rising)) were able to pontificate to a packed room about games and writing and the link between them. It’s something I could probably talk about with enthusiasm for something just short of the entire rest of time, so an hour was nowhere near enough [1].

And then, in the afternoon (skipping over the god-awful green-and-brown mush that was called lasagne, dwell for a moment on the perfectly reasonably coffee, and move on), I ran a game based in the world of The Adamantine Palace, for which I am hugely grateful to my players (I still have the sign-up sheet, so I know who you were – or who you were pretending to be), because you turned it into something more than a little awesome; right now I’m all fired up to write it up into a 20000 word novella. Just as soon as I have a spare month… Really pleased how that went, and it looked like everyone was having enough fun to keep right on going even after the ‘plot’ was resolved. Dragonmeet, we shall meet again. Special thanks to Dave Devereux again who managed to end up playing the dragon-knight and being in charge of the dragon and didn’t (unlike my play-test teams) call it Fluffy or something equally silly.

Actually, what he called it was [2]

We also did a little signing, which was an eye-opener. This is what happens: A handful people (not very many in my case) have heard of you. They know you’re going to be there. They come armed with books to sign. This is cool and makes you feel big and important. They show up at the start. And then they go, and the tumble-weed starts to roll past. People stop and stare and then quickly run away as soon as you make eye contact. Some people wander up and look at the cover. They pick it up and feel it. They might even read the blurb on the back. Sometimes they say something like will I like this? Well how do you answer that? Anyway, I sold a few books and signed a few more. What I saw, though, was that not one person who thought about buying The Adamantine Palace, neither the ones who bought it nor the ones who didn’t, read a single word of what was inside before they made their decision. They bought it (or not) on the basis of the cover and the blurb – all the bits that had nothing to do with me whatsoever. Content might get you repeat business, but over the counter, it’s covers and blurbs that sell books. Yes, I’ve heard that before, but seeing it in action was kind of scary. Kind of intensely annoying too. Or possibly liberating. Like, dude, it doesn’t matter what you actually write! Hmmm.

As an added bonus, I spent so much time travelling around on what felt like every tube line in London that the first draft of The Warlock’s Shadow is probably a week away from completion. Then it’s back to the Thief-Taker’s Apprentice for a couple of weeks for its last spit-and-polish, and then the the re-write-athon continues with The Order Of The Scales. Ahhh, dragons, it’ll be good to have you back. After a couple of months away, I was beginning to miss your fiery goodness.

[1] As a measure of how my general geek-level, I had actually, for once, read every single other author on the panel. Even the self-published one.

[2] Deleted for security reasons.

Dragonmeet (22/11/09)

Posted in News

Dragonmeet. It has dragon in the title, and I shall be there, dusting down the dice and running a short little game of Dungeons and Dragons. What to take on the role of Sollos or Kemir for a few hours? Want to be an alchemist? Or a dragon-knight with a real live dragon at your beck and call (play-test group one called him Fluffy. Group two called him Tantrum. generally he did more damage to them by accident than anything else in the story-line, but I’m sure next weekend’s gang will do much, much better. Heh). There might even be a consequential short story, once the great re-write-athon is done with.

Signings are a distinct possibility. There’s also a panel just after midday with a party of authors-who-game.

If you’re still reading this and still wondering what pn earth a Dragonmeet is when it’s at home, it’s a gaming convention. You can find out more here, along with where (London) and when (next Saturday). The prestigious guest list follows:

Erik Mona (Paizo Publishing/Pathfinder)
Robin D. Laws (Author/Game Designer)
Simon Washbourne (Barbarians of Lemuria)
Brennan Taylor (IPR/Galileo Games)
Andrew Looney (Looney Labs)
Gregor Hutton (Box Ninja; 3:16)
Gareth Hanrahan (Game Designer & Author)
Jeff Richard (Moon Design)
Mark Barrowcliffe (Author; ‘The Elfish Gene’)
Jonny Nexus (Author; ‘Game Night’)
David Devereux (Author; Hunter’s Moon)
Jon Hodgson (Artist)
Linda Pitman (Artist)

See some of you there, I hope.

Rats and the Ruling Sea (13/10/09)

Posted in News

Much to shared delight in this house, our copy of Rats and the Ruling Sea arrived this morning (not in the shops yet – that’s one of the few privileges of an author). For anyone who doesn’t already know, this is the sequel to The Red Wolf Conspiracy by Robert Redick. The Red Wolf Conspiracy is the most imaginative fantasy I’ve read in a long time and I thoroughly recommend it. For anyone interested in their own advance copy of Rats and the Ruling Sea, Robert will be in Forbidden Planet, London on Friday 16th from 6-7pm, and so will I, begging like everyone else for an autograph.

Status Report (1/9/09)

Posted in News

Am uninspired. Witicisms and worldly insights elude me. The rewriting of The King of the Crags is a few days from finished. The first draft of the gazetteer might just about be done for Fantasycon. Still awaiting official map. Yadda yadda yadda. I am dragon-ed out. Am half moved to drop it all after this rewrite is done and go and do something else for a bit. Elf Cops: Kicking ass[1] and taking names. Pixellated wizards dealing in cut-and-shut horses. Overworked and underpaid goblin engineers building designer monsters for their arms-dealer troll masters. Something daft like that. Suggestions on a postcard, please.

Or urban fantasy. Something to do with zombies, or maybe some edgy vampire thing. Something that sells bucketloads is original. [2]

Fantasycon. Yes. I’ll be at Fantasucon. Come to Fantasycon! Everyone come to fantasycon and buy me beer so I can dazzle you with the exceptionally magnificent cover to King of the Crags and with awesome author insights like: How come zombies always seem to have all their teeth even when the rest of them has half rotted away? and If vampires are cold, how come I can see their breath?

I’ll get me coat.

[1] Don’t kick asses. They kick back and they’re much better at it.

[2] Yeah. Like dragons. Totally edge-of-the-envelope.

Fantasycon (26/5/09)

Posted in News

I’m signed up to go to Fantasycon. OK, OK, it’s not very exciting. It’s a slow news week, right? Go read the Critical Failures post instead.

Eastercon (7/4/09)

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Now most likely you’re already either already going to Eastercon or not going to Eastercon, and if you are, then you’re certainly not going to see me. However, if you have nothing better to do first thing on a Saturday morning while the Friday hangover is wearing off, come and listen to me and others be opinionated about stuff about which we’re no more qualified than anyone else:

Saturday 10am: Do/should the opinions that authors display on their blogs affect whether you want to read them or not (and then for fun you can come back here afterwards to see whether I suddenly change the way I post).

Saturday 5pm: “Don’t trust a book with a dragon on the cover.” But wait – my book has a dragon on the cover. What am I doing on this panel…?

There are probably lots of much more interesting panels, but I do intend to try and make the dragon one a bit fun, at least. Much more importantly, there will be a bar full of Gollancz authors on all three nights. Thirsty Gollancz authors. Sadly some of us shall be missing on the Sunday, so I’ll we’ll be extra thirsty on the Friday and Saturday. As the T-shirts that I haven’t managed to get printed might have said, will sign books for food beer.

Yes, no T-shirts. Boo! Hiss! I know. Fantasycon it will have to be.

Order of the Scales is a little over a hundred thousand words and we’re talking about covers for King of the Crags, but just at the moment I’m a little distracted by something else… heh heh…

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

Posted in News

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.