2016 is over… and thank fuck for that

Well. I felt that I should write an end of year post, because that’s what you do with a blog, isn’t it? But how do you talk about 2016 without a lot of very energetic swearing? I won’t rehash the horrors and disappointments of this year, or the heroes we’ve lost, because I feel like I’ve spent months being alternately angry or sad. What I will do instead is poke myself with the great stuff that happened, selfishly, for me – because with these bits of glittering salvage I will build the good ship I’m Fucking Coming For You 2017.

2016 was the year I finished the Copper Cat Trilogy

The Silver Tide was published in February, bringing to an end my journey with the Black Feather Three. Lots of lovely people turned out to launch it with me, and I had a high old time. I will miss Wydrin, Frith and Sebastian a great deal (although not really, they’re with me all the time in my head) but I was very pleased to give them the ending I felt they deserved. Ye gods and little fishes.

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I didn’t manage to eat a single one of those bloody cookies…

The Copper Cat made her debut in the US and Canada

Thanks to Angry Robot, the Black Feather Three can now be found across the pond, with The Iron Ghost to follow in the first week of January. Surreal and exciting to know that my books are popping up in Barnes & Noble, and every time I look at the fabulous, almost movie-poster style covers I am filled with absolute glee.

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The Ninth Rain is imminent…

Starting a new trilogy is hard. Much of this year was taken up with writing the first book in the Winnowing Flame series, and it has been an interesting journey (interesting in this case can be taken to mean: difficult, alarming, nerve-wracking, thrilling, confusing). The Ninth Rain was a tough book to write; partly from the sheer terror of writing something new, and partly because I spent much of the period feeling quite unwell, and had to deal with a fair amount of physical pain and anxiety. What fun! I got there in the end though, and it’s a book I’m very proud of. It’s published on the 23rd of February, and I’m terrified.

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How amazing is this cover? *actual heart eyes*

Award nom nom noms…

To my genuine enormous surprise, The Iron Ghost was nominated for Best Fantasy Novel in the British Fantasy Awards 2016. To no surprise whatsoever, I didn’t win, but like The Ninth Rain, The Iron Ghost was a very tough book to write, and the fact that people loved it enough to put it forward for an award was hugely significant to me.

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SRFC continues to go from strength to strength

Super Relaxed Fantasy Club has had an excellent year. We moved venues to the very lovely Waterstones on Tottenham Court Road (check it out! It has a bar!) and guests included award-winners such as the brilliant Zen Cho and Adrian Tchaikovsky, and effortless entertainers such as Sarah Pinborough and Joe Hill. More to the point, our little community continues to grow and I hope to see you all back there for 2017. (Big thanks to my partner in crime Den Patrick, and all our excellent guest presenters).

There’s more I could write, but as usual when I come to construct these posts I realise what a terrible memory I have. Reading wise this year I have loved discovering Temeraire for the first time, and I loved The Flame Bearer, The Fifth Season, Station Eleven and The Lie Tree. Films I adored this year: Rogue One (oh Star Wars how you have my heart these days) and the new Ghostbusters, which was warm, clever, and really fucking funny. Here’s to more brilliant books and films in 2017 – I think we will need them, more than ever.

Happy New Year, my lovelies – let’s get out there and make things! 😀

Fantasycon 2014: Cloaks, Curry, and Karaoke

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We did not actually go to this pub, but it is my favourite, so here’s a picture.

This last weekend I attended by very first Fantasycon, which just happened to be in York, one of my very favourite places. I was initially quite nervous about the whole thing – my lovely bloke wouldn’t be attending this one, I’d be staying in the B&B on my own, and I had both a panel and the super mega bumper edition of Super Relaxed Fantasy Club to attend. I suspected I would get lost, or not know anyone, or feel terribly homesick, or simply fail to interact with people successfully. My experience of talking on panels in the past has been somewhat mixed, and I have to admit that over the last year I have wondered whether it’s something I should do at all, given it seems to be against my nature in lots of ways – I always enjoy listening to people, and having opinions on things (ye gods, do I ever have opinions on things) but I’m generally better at writing these opinions down, rather than managing to verbalise them in a witty and concise manner in front of a whole bunch of people. That, I’m not so great at.

As it happens, I think this time I managed to get away with it. The panel, which was titled “Beyond Grimdark”, featured me, Adrian Tchaikovsky, James Oswald, and Martin Taylor, with David Moore moderating. There appeared to be lots of people attending (I can only be vaguely certain of this, as once I’m in the chair I’m usually too scared to look at the audience) and the discussion was lively and interesting, AND, get this, I even managed to say a few things that might have made sense, and that were quite important to me.

My attendance of Super Relaxed Fantasy Club was almost scuppered by dinner at a curry house that had a) the cheapest glasses of wine I’ve ever seen b) narn breads so big they hung them from metal trees c) a casual approach to actually bringing the food, wine, or the bill, and c) a window seat that was apparently cat-nip to all of York’s drunkest and most exhibitionist citizens (thanks to Lucy Hounsom and Max Edwards for a dinner I won’t forget in a hurry). Having finally coaxed the waiters into bringing both the cheap wine and the bill, we necked the booze and made a hurried and dignity-free journey back to the hotel (who coincidentally had the most expensive glasses of wine I’ve ever seen) so that I was just in time to stumble apologetically into the room just as Den Patrick was contemplating throttling me, no doubt. Luckily, the event itself went swimmingly, largely thanks to Den, and as well as top readings from Laura Lam, Ed Cox, Emma Newman and Niel Bushnell, we also had a bonus section where James Barclay interviewed Simon Spanton – a lot of great people, talking about great books. It was fab, and I felt a tiny sliver of pride at how this odd little joke on twitter has turned into an event that people actually enjoy. (A note for newcomers to SRFC – the fantasycon edition was somewhat less chatty than usual, partly because we were overexcited and packed our time with readers, but normally there is a greater ratio of sitting around drinking cider)

Other highlights for me included my first ever win in Cards Against Humanity, watching the marvellous Juliet Mushens and Andrew Reid belt out “A Whole New World” at the Karaoke (some things cannot be unseen), almost getting Adrian Tchaikovsky to recite some Dr Seuss for me, the excellent lady who ordered a copy of my book on her tablet while I was standing next to her (hooray 21st Century!), being a nuisance in the sword shop, and listening to Charlaine Harris talk – she has the most wonderfully reassuring voice. I chatted with tons of marvellous people and caught up with lots of friends (I won’t attempt to name them all here because I will forget loads) and now I am absolutely knackered. Really, fantasycon has broken me. Big thanks must go here to the Redcloaks, as ever, who were simply fabulous. Roll on next year!

Fantasycon and Super Relaxed Fantasy Club

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Big and Little

 

It’s been a crazy busy month, so crazy busy in fact that I’ve completely failed to blog about the Mega Genre Fortnight of Events – Fantasy in the Court, Gollancz Fest, LonCon – but in an effort to avoid a meandering blog post where I attempt to summon memories from my incredibly tired brain, I will just say that I had an awesome time and was very lucky to chat to a lot of fabulous people.

Talking of awesome conventions, Friday sees me venturing up to York for Fantasycon. I love York: it has lots of history, lots of pubs, and you can buy mead and swords there. Obviously my sort of place. On the Saturday I will be taking part in a panel called Beyond Grimdark, which should be interesting, and in the evening at 9pm we have a special bumper edition of Super Relaxed Fantasy Club, including readings from Laura Lam, Ed Cox, Emma Newman, Niel Bushnell, AND the excellent James Barclay will be interviewing Simon Spanton for us, Gollancz editor extraordinaire and all round good egg. This along with all the usual chat and relaxed attitudes.

Guys, it’s going to be epic.

Super Relaxed Fantasy Club – York edition!

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EDIT: Unfortunately Adrian Tchaikovsky can no longer make it to the York meet, although I am pleased to tell you that David Tallerman will be reading instead, along with some other authors yet to be confirmed.

Exciting news! Super Relaxed Fantasy Club is heading up to York (only one of my favourite places ever). Details below!

WHEN: Saturday 2nd August

WHERE: Brigantes Bar and Brasserie
114 Micklegate, York, North Yorkshire YO1 6JX

MORE WHEN: the first reading will be at 5pm, so best to turn up before then.

WHO: the amazing Adrian Tchaikovsky, author of the Shadows of the Apt series, will be reading and doing a Q&A, with further readings to be confirmed.

WHAT THEN: drinking, chat, the usual SRFC shenanigans

HOORAY!

 

The Next Month in Book Events – come one, come all! And so on.

There’s so much going on in the next few weeks that I’m going to have to sum it up in a blog – not just for Useful Informational Purposes, but because I feel like my editing-addled brain might just forget something, and it would be fairly embarrassing to forget to turn up for my own launch. But it’s not all about me and my mead-fixation! A number of very cool books are about to smack you in the face with their awesome… Firstly though:

Wednesday 19th February The Copper Promise Launch at Forbidden Planet posting coverCome and join me (on my birthday, no less) in one of my favourite places in London as I launch my first ever book. Expect an awkward reading, progressively untidier dragons scribbled in copies of the book, and then later on, my tearful lurching out of the pub, possibly hugging a copy of my own book and telling passers-by how I’ve had a dream come true and it’s all amazing and where can I get a burger around here?*

Tuesday 25th of February The Super Relaxed Fantasy Club meet-up

Come to the Royal Festival Hall and hang out with like-minded genre fans, while we discuss/chat/gossip about everything going on in the SFF community at the moment. Assuming I don’t have a chest infection this time round (ye gods no) I will be doing a reading from The Copper Promise and then possibly answering questions about it. (Please note: I do not mind if these questions are of the “Would you like a drink?” variety)

Thursday 27th of February Banished by Liz de Jager launches at Foyles

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Kit is proud to be a Blackhart, now she’s living with her unorthodox cousins and sharing their strange lives. Especially since their home-schooling includes spells, fighting enemy fae and using ancient weapons. But it’s not until she rescues a rather handsome fae prince, fighting for his life on the edge of Blackhart Manor, that her training really kicks in. With her family away on various missions, Kit must protect Prince Thorn, rely on new friends and use her own unfamiliar magic to stay ahead of Thorn’s enemies. As things go from bad to apocalyptic, fae battle fae in a war that threatens to spill into the human world. Then Kit pits herself against the Elder Gods themselves – it’s that or lose everyone she’s learnt to love.

Liz is my agent bro and a very cool lady, and her first book is going to knock your socks off.

Thursday 6th March The Burning Dark and Hang Wire by Adam Christopher DOUBLE LAUNCH

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In The Burning Dark, Idaho Cleveland has one last mission before early retirement – decommissioning the Coast City, a distant research outpost orbiting the toxic star Shadow. Once there, Ida’s only contact with the outside universe is through his ham radio—which begins to tune itself to the banned and sinister dimension known as subspace. Fighting isolation and paranoia, Ida hears and records a disturbing transmission over the radio—a woman’s thousand-year-old mayday call. But, when the voice on the recording begins speaking to Ida just as the station is attacked by mysterious forces, Ida realises he is about to face an enemy far more evil and insidious than anything he’s ever faced before.
In Hang Wire, Ted Hall is worried. He’s been sleepwalking, and his somnambulant travels appear to coincide with murders by the notorious Hang Wire Killer. Meanwhile, the circus has come to town, but the Celtic dancers are taking their pagan act a little too seriously, the manager of the Olde Worlde Funfair has starting talking to his vintage machines, and the new acrobat’s frequent absences are causing tension among the performers. Out in the city there are other new arrivals – immortals searching for an ancient power – a primal evil which, if unopposed, could destroy the world!

Adam is writing books unlike anyone else at the moment, and this evening is the perfect opportunity to check out the sheer crazy variety of his books – from ghost story space opera to serial killer thriller – and get him to sign them for you.

Monday 10th March Den Patrick and Jen Williams Debut Fantasy Author Talk at Blackwells – featuring The Boy with the Porcelain Blade and The Copper Promise new Blade imageAn ornate yet dark fantasy, with echoes of Mervyn Peake, Robin Hobb and Jon Courtenay Grimwood, The Boy With The Porcelain Blade is a beautifully wrought story of a young man finding his way through the dark heart of fantasy state not unlike a Renaissance Italian city state. There’s an intriguing back story, terrifying levels of deceit and a horrifying secret at the centre of it all but the star of the piece is the brilliantly engaging hero: Lucien. Lucien de Fontein has grown up different. One of the mysterious and misshapen Orfano who appear around the Kingdom of Landfall, he is a talented fighter yet constantly lonely, tormented by his deformity, and well aware that he is a mere pawn in a political game.

Another debut fantasy author you’re going to want to get to know, Den Patrick’s The Boy with the Porcelain Blade comes out on the 20th of March, but you can pick up early signed copies at this event, as well as listen to us answer questions and waffle on. Hooray!

 

Well, that’s my social calender sorted for the next month. What will I see you at? 😉

 

* Not really, I promise to behave. And I know exactly where to get a burger.

Super Relaxed Fantasy Club needs YOU! *big pointy finger*

Ha, you thought I’d forgotten about this, didn’t you? You thought I’d have a couple of glasses of wine and wipe such things from my memory (and I couldn’t blame you for thinking that) but no! Plans are afoot, my lovelies. We’ve had a bit of a talk about potential website stuff, and thanks to the marvellous Den Patrick, we’ve poked some people about potential meeting up spaces (still wrangling that), and thanks to the fabulous Jenny Haines, I’ve seen a little teaser of what could well be the best badger-related badges in all of existence. So despite the Super Relaxed nature of SRFC, things have been happening.

It’s come to that stage now though, where we’re starting to need to know exactly who’s going to be involved, and how. So let’s see some hands going up in the comments, and let’s see some of your feedback.

Do you want to be part of SRFC?

Would you perhaps be prepared to submit our very first “This fantasy book is amazing and you should read it” articles?

What sort of website would you like to see? A straight up blog, with articles from a wide range of people, along with updates on when/where the next meet-up would be? Or perhaps a forum based thing, with articles on the side?

Would you come to a meet-up? What would you like to see at one? Will you buy me a drink?

Would you be interested in a short story anthology? At some point it would be ace to have actual physical badges to give to people, and one way of funding that would be a little ebook anthology. What do you think?

Let me know in the comments! SRFC needs you, and your laid back ideas, dude.

(please imagine The Dude from The Big Lebowski, except now he’s a badger. Got that? Excellent)

Super Relaxed Fantasy Club: The first rule of SRFC…

 

So, strange things happen on Twitter. Yesterday, I babbled on twitter about how I would like some sort of club for talking about Fantasy books. And it would have to be a super-relaxed sort of thing, because I’m easily confused and hideously busy and slightly sleepy. The essential idea was this:

To join, you write something about your favourite fantasy book. We stick it on a blog type thing.

For this, you receive a badge* (I’m a big fan of badges)

Eventually, we have a little site full of happy articles about how brilliant fantasy is, and they’re all tagged up somehow so it’s really easy to find stuff you want to read.
We can flag up new authors and stuff we’re eagerly anticipating.

And once or twice a year, we all get together in a pub somewhere and talk fantasy and show off our badges. There will be carousing, and maybe even readings and signings and shenanigans.

And that’s about it.

Super Relaxed Fantasy Club. What do we think? Is this something we can do? Is it even possible? How would it physically work? I’m not one of life’s great organizers, this is true, and anything like this would require a great deal of help from all sides, but I think this could potentially be a beautiful thing: a club where everyone is welcome, you don’t have to pay an alarming fee to join, and you don’t have to be versed in the ancient history of the genre to be a part of it. You just need to love Fantasy, and badges, and beverages.

If you’re interested and can see yourself being a part of SRFC, slap a comment on this and let’s get talking.

*badges will be badger themed. Obviously.