A sudden dramatic pause...

Things at Harkess Hall have suddenly gone quiet. No more frantic scrabbling noises coming from the upstairs office. No more swearing, and heartfelt pleas to the Gods of Editing. Silence descends, eerie and pregnant, broken only by the soft whisper of pages of loose A4 being turned.

The Edit has finished

'Amunet' is released to the beta readers. I sit in my deep leather chair, trying not to bite my fingernails so deeply that I wont be able to work when the reviews come back. A tense time.

The Writer & Artists Yearbook sits before me, unopened, taunting me. Should I tempt fate by starting to list all those prospective agents and publishers to whom my latest work should be submitted. winnowing through the lists to pluck out those most likely to be interested in something YA; Steampunky with hints of Urban Fantasy? I push it resolutely away; after the edits, after Christmas.



The Next Big Thing

Janet Edwards was kind enough to be the first tag me in the the great 'Next Big Thing' meme that seems to be spreading like a virus through the blogs of authors the world over. 

Now I've been tagged again by Sam Stone, 'The Queen of Vampire Fiction' author of the Vampire Gene series and any number of terrifying short stories. Her latest collection is 'Zombies at Tiffany's'. You can check out her NBT post here

Janet is the author of 'Earth Girl', published earlier this year, and you can see her NBT post here.

Check out the bottom of this post for my 'onward links' to deserving wordsmiths.

So, the whole point of this is to go through a list of questions to winkle out/brag about what's over my particular horizon, so here goes.

1) What is the working title of your book?
My first book, 'Aphrodite's Dawn' was published in January. Its SF, and mainly for the YA market. My next work will be 'Warrior Stone: Underland'. Its very different from my first book, being urban fantasy with hints of steampunk. I'm hoping its found a home, but that's still to be confirmed. 'Amunet' (my real 'work in progress') is still in editing, but is also supernatural and steampunky. Should be ready to send out into the world in the new year.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

I haven't a clue. I keep an old-fashioned dictaphone in my car (I do a lot of commuting) Stuff pops into my head. I could be listening to a podcast, or the news, and something will raise itself above the background noise and I reach for the recorder.
The interesting stuff happens when I play it all back to 'log' everything into my ideas book. Everything gets mixed up in my head, and that's when the ideas come spinning out the side

3) What genre does your book fall under?

I have a problem with the whole 'genre' thing, which is probably why I like to write for the Young Adult market. In YA, the genre doesn't matter so much.
If I have to pick a genre, though, I tend to say Speculative Fiction: how else could you describe urban fantasy + steampunk + alternate reality :)

4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Warrior Claire Stone (the eponymous hero of Underland) is one of my favourite characters. I'd really like to work with her through some more books. Who I would get to play her is easy: Allison Scagliotti, who plays Claudia Donovan in Warehouse 13. Fiesty, stubborn and really, really smart.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Claire Stone accidentally discovers Underland, and after being inviting to become a Warrior, fights to stop personality-stealing beings from Beneath reaching our world.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Who knows? At the moment, I'm happiest going along the traditional publishing route. I dont have anything against self publishing, but my personal ethos is that if you go down the traditional route, then a prospective reader can assume that the book has been professionally edited, proofed, and published.
I know that's a generalization - there are dreadful book that are supposed to have gone through that process and wonderful ones that didn't. I may try the self publishing route one day, but not just yet.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

For an 80,000 word novel it takes me 10-12 weeks to get the first, very dirty draft out - but then I do have a day job at the moment. I usually set it aside for a couple of months then come back and do a review and first edit before I start showing sections to my review group.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre.

Demon Trappers springs to mind. Jana Oliver is a great author (and I can see Allison Scagliotti as Riley, too). There's also a kind of 'Harry Dresden's Kid Sister' thing going on here too, and touches of Cyrus Darian and the Technomicron (Raven Dane) and maybe a little 'Clockwork Angel' by Claire Cassandra

9) Who or What inspired you to write this book?
Not this book specifically, but I have to tip my hat to Terry Jackman. Terry runs Orbit, a group of writers circles, under the auspices of the British Science Fiction Association. It was Terry who looked at one of my early doodles and suggested my style could well suit the Young Adult market. After I'd done a little research and realized she wasn't suggesting my writing was childish, I decided to have a go - and wrote my first published novel. So I definitely have Terry to thank for putting me on this path.

10) What else about your book might pique the readers’s interest?
It's very much a crossover story, and would appeal to anybody over the age of twelve thru adult.
I’m tagging some other authors to answer the same questions next Wednesday, November 21st (Week 25).  Do check out their blogs. 

Joanne Hall (The Feline Queen)

Bev  Allen (Jabin and the Space Pirates)
Dolly Garland
Geoff Nelder (ARIA: Left Luggage)


Review: The Feline Queen by Joanne Hall

As you all probably know by now, I don't do reviews often. I tend to keep my mouth shut unless a book made a major impression on me, and I'm even less likely to write a review of something by someone I know because it tends to feed the Trolls.

And yet, here I am, putting finger to keyboard to tell you about this book. The Feline Queen is a collection of short stories by Joanne, published by Wolfsinger Publications, and with cover art by the awesome Andy Bigwood.

I first met Joanne at Fantasycon '12, and then again at Bristolcon '12 (where she was one of the organisers, and a damned fine con it was too). And I'll be perfectly honest, it wasn't me that bought her book. I had already spent my book budget for the con (on some sketches by Tom Brown, if I remember) . It was my partner. So its all her fault.

So I put up with a week of my partner ranting at how god this was and how I had to push it to the top of my 'To Read' list - so for a quiet life that's what I did.

The best way I can describe 'Feline Queen' is to draw a parallel with a box of chocolate; you resolutely put the lid back on, place the box out of arms reach, and steadfastly commit not to have another one for at least an hour - until the little demon inside your head whispers 'go on - just one more'. So I can honestly say that Joanne Hall cost me at least four hours sleep over the past week.

There are so many 'the thing I like about's with this collection its difficult to know where to start. My partner described it as a collection of campfire stories. For me, I think it was the variety. Although most stories had a fantasy feel, there was no over preponderance of sword and sorcery. Indeed, there was a strong thread of faerie tales and humour that ran throughout.

I don't do spoilers, and I don't do descriptions of the stories. I know I should in a review, but to me it smack to much of spoiling the joy of the next reader. I will say look out for the girl who can walk on smoke, and I give special awards to the title story, 'The Witch on the Wall', and 'Ismay's Run'

A truly well deserved five stars and 'must read'.


Mark today as a good one

For the past week I've been suffering from an infected sinus, which has manifested as all the teeth on one side of my face aching. Not good.

Today, though, I got two belly laughs - and from unexpected sources. That makes them all the more valuable.

The first was someone on the TV show 'Switched' telling their boss to F**k Off in a most wonderful 'wish I could do that' way.

The second was a usually quite serious team where I work picking up on a jokey fault clearance I submitted, and writing a 'Service Report' blaming an outage on Aliens and Internet Faeries.

I guess any day you get two good laughs out of has to be classed a success. :)


Roll Up, Getcher BristolCon tickets now

BristolCon have announced the dates for next year's extravaganza (Oct 26). Special offers currently available on the already ludicrously generous price. Go to www.bristolcon.org to sign up


BristolCon Artist Shoutout #2

Sorry about the delay, this was supposed to be out last weekend, but stuff happened.

Anyway, on to the second (and last) shout for people I saw at BristolCon that (for me) stood out from the crowd.

First Jennie Gyllblad. "Illustrator and Graphic Novel Artist' it says on her card, and I cant find anything to disagree with there.

What attracted me to Jennie's table - apart from her wonderful feathered headdress - was that I saw an instant synergy between her work and my current novel, Amunet.

Its surprising how often I see something that calls to something I'm working on. A hint as to what sort of cover art I might want when it gets published (assuming I get a say). Anyhow, Jennie's site is very much worth a look at www.jenniegyllblad.com

Next, Tom and Nimue Brown. Spent ages chatting with Nimue about Tom's work, and even managed to buy a couple of pieces (though not as much as I would have liked). Really looking forward getting my hands on 'Hopeless Maine: Personal Demons'. I also so wish I had known Nimue was a druid while I was chatting to her - actually, that might not have been such a good idea. Druidry fascinates me and I would probably have scared away other potential customers. Hope to seem them both again at other cons.