Books you should buy for Christmas (and not just mine!) :D

It’s that time of the year again: the weather gets a little rougher, the nights are seeping into our days, and you start saying things like ‘I can’t believe it’s dark at four o’clock!’ even though you have experienced this strange phenomenon every year of your life… It’s actually my favourite time of the year, being an Autumn/Winter person rather than a Spring/Summer type person, and this is despite the looming stress of Christmas – what to buy? What for dinner? Who are we eating dinner with? What lingering family resentments need to be avoided? Posting cards this year or just pretending that I did?

So this year I offer the following to help with some of the Christmas stress. Have a fantasy reader you need to buy for? Or just need to alleviate the pain of buying presents with buying some for yourself? (I do this a lot). Then may I recommend, um, my books?

Here are some excellent reasons to buy the Copper Cat books:

The covers are really very beautiful and feature dragons. They will beautify anyone’s bookshelves and immediately convey a sense of good taste and gravitas.

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The books themselves are quite hefty, so you are a) getting good value for your money b) could potentially use them to batter an intruder with.

Some quotes from people who have enjoyed the Copper Cat books:

‘Tolerable. Needed more elves.’ – Aragorn, son of Arathorn*

‘I liked the bit with all the horses. Wait, which book was this again?’ – Shadowfax

‘There’s fighting, dragons, treasure. What’s not to like?’ – Beowulf

Alright, okay, some quotes from people who have actually read the books (and do really exist):

‘Near perfect fantasy-adventure… read it and remind yourself what made you fall in love with fantasy’ – Starburst Magazine

‘Williams has thrown out the rulebook and injected a fun tone into epic fantasy without lightening or watering down the excitement and adventure… Highly recommended’ – The Independent

‘Highly inventive, vibrant high fantasy with a cast you can care about’ – The British Fantasy Society

The Copper Cat books are sword and sorcery with a modern edge – adventure, snark, terrible dark deeds done in the name of magic, and a sprinkling of sexy times. You can buy The Copper Promise and The Iron Ghost right now, and even pre-order the final volume in the trilogy, The Silver Tide. However, if chunky sword and sorcery books aren’t your thing, then here are some other fantastic books from across the genre spectrum, all of which would be spectacular additions to the space underneath your Christmas tree:

The Boy with the Porcelain Blade by Den Patrick – a darker shade of fantasy, with delicious gothic horrors and lashings of swordfights. The sequel, The Boy Who Wept Blood, is also available.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik – a gorgeous fairy tale with probably the most beautiful depiction of magic use I’ve ever read. Also, it’s quite sexy.

Battlemage by Stephen Aryan – like magic that punches you in the face? This is the book for you.

Banished by Liz de Jager – if you have young people to buy for (or you just fancy a bit of ass-kicking adventure yourself) then may I introduce you to Kit Blackhart? She is going to knock your socks off. The sequel, Vowed, is also available now.

The Vagrant by Pete Newman – a book that defies description, but it’s likely you won’t have read another fantasy book like it.

Anything by Robin Hobb – You’re a person of taste and distinction, so you don’t need me to recommend Robin Hobb to you, but perhaps you know a burgeoning fantasy fan who hasn’t read Assassin’s Apprentice yet. You know what to do.

The Devil of Nanking by Mo Hayder – a sudden horror/crime recommendation for you. If you like unreliable narrators and unspeakable evil (and who doesn’t, at Christmas?) I can’t throw this book at you fast enough.

Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky – a science-fiction reader you need to buy for? Expand their minds with this and never look at spiders in the same way again.

I hope that one of the books I’ve banged on about here will tickle your fancy, and remember that the greatest present you can give an author is a photo of you gleefully hugging their book you have just willingly purchased with actual money in a bookshop, or even, praise be to all the little goblins, a review.

Wishing you the best of times at the best time of year,

Jen x

 

*please note, there are no actual elves in the Copper Cat books.

British Fantasy Award Nomination EXCITEMENT

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The teeny IRON GHOST – with cave troll for scale

Gosh, well yesterday was a bit exciting. I had just received through the post an early copy of the tiny paperback version of THE IRON GHOST (spoiler: it’s not that tiny) and sat down to admire its loveliness when my @ mentions on Twitter went crazy. I had been nominated for best newcomer in the British Fantasy Awards.

 

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Me, yesterday

I’m over the moon, and it’s an especially good list of nominations, full of friends and people I admire. Also nominated for Best Newcomer are my fellow SRFC co-hort Den Patrick, and Actual Beam of Sunshine Ed Cox (for The Boy with the Porcelain Blade and The Relic Guild respectively) and the wider list is full of fabulous writers and publishers too – TBR piles all over will be newly embiggened!

It’s a pretty amazing thing. As I’m sure I’ve blathered on about before, I never truly thought I would have books published, and THE COPPER PROMISE was such a wild card: a book that stomped all over my plans for writing other books and pushed its way to the front of my head. The fact that people have cared enough about it to vote for it in any way, is very cool indeed, and a big boost to a new author. So thank you, lovelies. You rock.

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Mead, mayhem, monsters, and irresponsible red-heads.

 Soon, I will hopefully have more news for you, and I’ll be able to show you the cover for THE SILVER TIDE too, which I’m editing right now. EXCITING TIMES!

 

My 2014: A Year in Pictures, Books, and Cider

It feels odd to say it, because I’ve never really been the sort of person to look back over a year and judge it on its merits or disasters (mainly because I have a terrible memory) but I think 2014 has been an incredible year for me.

The year before last I was pootling away writing novels that I confidently expected no one would ever read. I was happy doing that, because I’d worked out that writing was what I was supposed to be doing, but the next stage – the getting an agent and selling a book stage – seemed cheerfully impossible, the sort of thing that happened to other people.

And so, 2014, which thanks to the wonderful Juliet Mushens and Headline, saw my book sitting on the shelves of actual bookshops. I’m still, in my heart, a tiny bit stunned.

Here are a bunch of pictures from this year, with some of the people and moments that have made it a special one for me (I did that My Year thing on facebook but it generated a whole bunch of incredibly unflattering photos and none of my book launch, so bum off, facebook)

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Forbidden Planet London, February

We launched THE COPPER PROMISE in Forbidden Planet on my birthday. I was sweaty and terrified, but there was cake and lots of friendly faces. And they sung me happy birthday.

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SRFC, Royal Festival Hall, February

Shortly after that, I attended my first ever Super Relaxed Fantasy Club, having missed the first one thanks to a chest infection. As with everything, I imbued it with my sense of class and dignity. Den Patrick reads from his book, and does a better job than me as usual.

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Blackwells, Charing Cross Road, March

In March, Den and I did a joint event at Blackwells where we were interviewed by the fabulous Jared from Pornokitsch. Many copies of The Copper Promise and The Boy With the Porcelain Blade were signed.

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A Bookshop

The book is now in bookshops! I have no idea where this photo comes chronologically, but it has The Copper Promise in a Scott Lynch, George R R Martin, James Oswald sandwich so I’ve gone with this one. I have LOTS of pictures of my book in bookshops. It is amazing.

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Pyra, Tyrant and Tummy Lord

There have been a lot book photos, so here is a random photo of the cat on the day we let her out in the garden. She looks very pretty here, but promptly came inside and puked. Thanks Pyra.

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Lambeth Country Show, in a time and place known only as cider

Marty and I attended the Lambeth Country Show in the summer and drank vast amounts of Chucklehead cider, as is now traditional. I think the fact that this picture is on its side is appropriate.

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10 years in the iso cubes is a bit much for “loitering near the bar”

August was the Month of Conventions! At Nineworlds I ran into a Judge.

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Here I am, demonstrating that you can’t looked composed for a photo whilst talking on a panel

At Fantasycon I talked about Grimdark on a panel and apparently managed to say some sensible things (“lol Grimdark”, in summary) and managed to turn up late to SRFC.

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Land’s End, in lots of sun

At some point we took a holiday, and there was much relaxing. Cornwall was amazingly sunny and we bought several plastic dinosaurs.

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The Iron Ghost, sequel to The Copper Promise

And towards the end of 2014, my next book baby arrived! The Iron Ghost in all its blue glory. There are times when publishing seems to take forever, and times when everything seems to happen at once. I can’t believe we’re here already.

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My awesome Christmas zombie av, by the amazing Crispin Young

In the end, there were a lot more photos I could have put up here, most of them involving alcohol, but I have to stop somewhere. I would like to say a huge thanks to everyone who has helped make this year such an excellent one, and all those people who read The Copper Promise and said kind things about it – and above all thank you to Marty, who has kept me going this year with a mixture of support, booze, and inappropriate jokes.

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Books, together at last!

The Best New Things: The Boy with the Porcelain Blade by Den Patrick

There are a number of lovely things about being a writer – two of my favourites are getting to read new books early (I am nothing if not mercenary when it comes to reading) and meeting and making friends with cool people within the SFF community. Den Patrick was someone I met around about the same time that Juliet Mushens, Super Agent and Queen of the Selfie, was reading through my manuscript. It was a nerve-wracking time, and Den kindly bought me a giant hot chocolate and talked me down from my panic. He’s also one of those writers who has an interesting list of past jobs to put on his author bio – if you ever need advice on painting tiny model orcs or how to put a spreadsheet together, he’s your chap.*

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And now I’m lucky enough to have an early copy of Den’s first novel, The Boy with the Porcelain Blade, a book which pleases me on many levels – for one thing, it demonstrates the unique breadth and variety of the fantasy genre. While my book is all dodgy taverns and dusty tombs, TBWTPB takes you somewhere quite different: it’s a little bit Renaissance Italy, a little bit Gormenghast, with a dollop of the X-Men thrown in for good measure, and the resulting mixture is the sort of unique tale I don’t think you’ll find anywhere else. It concerns Lucien de Fontein, a boy born with a strange disfigurement and fostered into a noble family, while growing up in a world of intrigue and tantalising strangeness. Lucien is an Orfano, one of a group of mysterious foundlings with strange disfigurements and abilities, treated with both fear and awe by the inhabitants of Landfall. Lucien, already trying to make his way in a world filled with unknown dangers and secret agendas, stumbles across something he shouldn’t have, and the repercussions for himself and for the Kingdom of Landfall will be enormous.

There is a game Den is playing with the reader here, where glimpses of this world generate more and more questions, until you are tearing through the book to get to the answers. Lucien too is an appealing character full of self doubt and vulnerability, the next in the great line of fantasy’s outsiders, those characters you come to side with and then care about deeply – the FitzChivalry Farseers and the Tyrion Lannisters. Den’s writing is lean and atmospheric, taking very little time at all to immerse you in the unsettling shadows and miasmas of his world, while his use of flashbacks in alternating chapters give Lucien’s journey an extra layer of meaning. It’s a debut novel that’s going to knock your socks off, and I reckon it will grow to be one of the most original fantasy series out there. So don’t say I didn’t tell you.

On Monday the 10th of March, Den and I are appearing together at Blackwell’s Bookshop on Charing Cross Road, where we will be interviewed by the alarmingly clever Jared from Pornokitsch. There will be book chat, witty pondering on the nature of the fantasy genre (probably) and Den and I will compete to see who can wear more items of black clothing. Do come along!


* I did try with the spreadsheets, honestly Den, but I got distracted by the colour coding.

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.

The Boy with the Porcelain Blade/The Copper Promise Event Palooza!

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I don’t know really, I just wanted to use the word palooza. Paloooooza…

Exciting week this week! The Copper Promise is out on Thursday, would you believe it, and if you’ve pre-ordered then a brick-sized chunk of sword and sorcery could be winging its way to you now. Terrifying and thrilling in equal measure.

I also get to tell you about an event I’m doing on the 10th of March with the marvellous Den Patrick, over at Charing Cross Road Blackwell’s, a jewel of a bookshop on one of my favourite roads in London. Den has written a book that’s going to storm the fantasy world and kick it firmly up the pants – The Boy with the Porcelain Blade is out on the 20th of March, but if you come along to Blackwell’s you can get it early. Believe me, you will want to do this as I am reading it at the moment and it is a corker – think The X-Men meets Gormenghast in a darker version of Renaissance Italy. See what I mean?

Den has also written three War Fighting Manuals for Gollancz, as well as a whole clutch of excellent short stories, and he’s a thoroughly lovely bloke who is bound to have lots of witty and wise stuff to say about books and writing (which will handily distract from me chewing my knuckles off and looking terrified).

Do come along, it would be lovely to see you all, and you’ll be supporting what I have just this second decided to call the New Weirdy Wave of Fabulous Fantasy. Possibly.