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! 😀

*gibbering noises* THE IRON GHOST nominated for Best Novel in the British Fantasy Awards

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Totally over the moon to find out this morning that The Iron Ghost is on the Best Novel shortlist for the British Fantasy Society awards. Not only that, but it’s rubbing shoulders with a completely stonking bunch of excellent novels, and the nominations in general contain lots of dear friends and people I admire a lot. What an unexpectedly great Tuesday!

I am especially pleased because The Iron Ghost was such a hard book to write. Full of anxiety and self-doubt, I sweated blood over the thing, starting over twice and chucking away over 60,000 words at one point. That I made it out the other end with an actual book felt like a miracle at the time, so the fact that people appear to have enjoyed it makes all the sweat-blood worthwhile. Now I shall eat a giant cookie. 😀

EDIT: Bonus! Mentioned in the Guardian 😀

The Gemmell Awards and a Fox Pocket story

Oi oi! Just some quick bits and bobs. I’m very chuffed to say that The Iron Ghost has made it on to the long list for the David Gemmell Legend award (for best book) – alongside some incredible writers. Patrick Insole, the clever chap who designed all my covers, has also been nominated for the amazing Iron Ghost cover. If you should feel so inclined, voting is free and open to everyone, so CLICK HERE TO VOTE FOR AWESOME BOOKS.

If you need a reminder of the awesomeness of The Iron Ghost cover, with the icy mountains of Skaldshollow and fabulous wyverns (and ridiculous pun), here you go!

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The Piercing the Vale fox pocket anthology is out now from Fox Spirit books, and I’m very pleased to have a short story in there. Short stories from me these days are as rare as griffin teeth, so I am quite proud of The Ghost-Trap, and this tiny wee book is bursting with fabulous tales. You can grab a copy here.

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Gorgeous cover design by Sarah Anne Langton

And a quick last minute plug – myself, Ed Cox and Den Patrick are off to Colchester on the 28th of May. I hope to see some of you there!
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The Silver Tide… has happened

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So we launched The Silver Tide this week. The story of the Black Feather Three has come to an end. *distant wailing and sobbing*

It was, for me, a truly epic night. Huge thanks to everyone who came along and had a chat at the signing (which went on for about an hour and a half, apparently), everyone who had a slightly erratic dragon scrawled in their copy, and everyone who raised a toast in the Phoenix with me afterwards. In another time and place, Wydrin is telling outrageously exaggerated stories about you all.

Because the signing went on for such a long time, I failed to do any sort of official speech (a relief for everyone, I’m sure) so I wanted to pop a few things up on here:

Thank you to my wonderful agent, Juliet Mushens – always fighting in my corner, and ready with common sense when I need it (or a sarcastic gif of some sort).

Thank you to my excellent editors, Emily Griffin and Claire Baldwin, who also cried over the ending.

Thank you to everyone who downed a glass of mead, chucked on their boiled leather vanbraces and came on this adventure with me, Wydrin, Sebastian and Frith. It has been a most unexpected journey, and like all unsuspecting protagonists, I hope I’ve learnt from the difficult bits, because I’ve certainly enjoyed all the good bits. Onwards!

 

IMPORTANT THINGS no honestly

I seem to have accidentally created a tradition where the week before my book is published is the most ridiculously stressful of the year (we moved to a new flat the week before The Copper Promise came out, fun times). For this reason, I haven’t updated the blog when I should have and I’m slightly behind, so here are some IMPORTANT THINGS (on the subject of important things, if you have pre-ordered a copy of THE SILVER TIDE from Amazon, please have a look at the bottom of this post for a slightly boring but essential PSA)

The US/Canadian covers of THE COPPER PROMISE and THE IRON GHOST have been revealed. Go to Barnes & Noble for the full deets. I know the whole UK cover vs US cover thing can be slightly fractious in SFF circles, so I am chuffed to see such a positive response. I think they are sexy and brilliant, and they punch you in the face with sword and sorcery attitude. Big thanks to Gene Mollica and the team at Angry Robot for creating what essentially look like movie posters for a bad-ass film version of the books. YASSS.

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You know Wydrin is just about to kick someone’s butt

And next week (how is this happening already? Where did the last few years go? Who am I even?) THE SILVER TIDE will be making its way out into the world. The kindle version and the trade paperback (more on that in a second) will be released on the 25th of February. And I’m doing two celebratory event things to celebrate.

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On the 23rd of February, instead of running Super Relaxed Fantasy Club from behind the scenes, like some sort of shadowy figure of mystery, I will be reading from THE SILVER TIDE and answering questions (easy ones, I hope). There will also be early copies of the trade paperback to buy. Hooray! Remember, SRFC is always free, everyone is welcome, and on Tuesday the fabulous Adrian Tchaikovsky and Simon Morden will also be reading.

On Thursday the 25th of February we’ll be launching the book at my favourite shop since I was ten, Forbidden Planet. I will sign books and draw increasingly erratic dragons. There will be drinks afterwards, of course, and I suspect I will be super emotional. I hope to see you all there to celebrate and lift a glass of something evil to the Black Feather Three.

Now, the PSA portion of the blog post. There have been some problems with the Amazon listings of THE SILVER TIDE that I have only recently been made aware of. Essentially, for some time the kindle edition (out on the 25th of Feb) was listed alongside the small format paperback edition (out in July), while the trade paperback (out on the 25th of Feb) was listed, confusingly, separately. It’s on it’s way to being fixed, but as you can imagine this has been confusing.

If you want the physical book that’s out next week, and you’re ordering from Amazon, you want this one.

If you have already pre-ordered a copy, please do check you’ve got the right one. This probably only affects a few people, but I get very twitchy when I think of someone expecting their book to arrive next week, when it will be merrily going nowhere until July.

ANYWAY. How chuffed am I at the moment? Very chuffed. I love THE SILVER TIDE – it nearly broke me, but it’s the ending I wanted. A few lovely reviews have come in for it so far and I am not above dropping a few of them into this post.

“The result is more action, more adventure, more unlikely rescues, and more fun … the entire series is a delight” STARBURST magazine

“So it’s time to say goodbye to this amazing trilogy. I DON’T WANT TO … a story that’s true in every way to the spirit of epic adventure, while giving us something that’s right up to date at the same time” Over the Effing Rainbow 

“In the immortal words of The Copper Cat, Wydrin of Crosshaven: ‘Ye gods and little fishes, what are you waiting for?'” SCI-FI NOW magazine

An End of the Year Waffle: featuring books, life & Star Wars

I like the idea of an end of the year post very much, but I am always somewhat scuppered by my terrible memory, where I’m never completely sure if what I remember happened this year, or when I was seven, or that night at Uni when I’d been at the Red Bull and vodkas. Anyway, here’s some stuff I’m almost certain happened in 2015:

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The Iron Ghost was published, and I survived releasing my second book into the wild

The sequel to The Copper Promise was a difficult book for me to write (I think I’ve waffled on before about the weird pressures of writing your first book to deadline when you know people will actually want to read it) so it was lovely to launch it with a bunch of friends and family, and generally people seem to be of the opinion that it’s a better book than the first one – even people who really loved the first one. I was worried about The Iron Ghost, but looking back on it, all the blood I sweated was worth it.

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The Silver Tide was written and edited, and I wrote the end of the Copper Cat trilogy

The last book in the trilogy was difficult for a different reason – I had enormous fun writing it, but ultimately I was saying goodbye to characters I love very much. It was the longest book I’ve written (so far) and I put everything I had into it, so suffice to say, what with all the crying and gnashing of teeth and general stress, I’m bleeding knackered. But happy. I have finished the trilogy and I am enormously proud of it. Roll on February, when we’ll be having the biggest Copper Cat party yet (come to the launch, it will be EPIC)

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Please note: Not an accurate depiction of the events of The Ninth Rain

 

I signed a new three book deal with Headline, and The Ninth Rain was born

I’m still getting over this, to be honest. I cannot tell you how much it fills me with glee to know that I get to continue writing books for a living, and that this next series has a home already. I’m writing the first book at the moment, and its too early to say too much about it I think, but I’m having a lot of fun with it – new world, new characters, new crazy stuff to engineer. It’s a challenge, this one, there’s no doubt about it, but I have witches blowing things up so I’m happy. Big love to my amazing agent Juliet Mushens for making amazing things happen.

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Angry Robot are sending The Copper Promise and The Iron Ghost to the USA

ROAD TRIP! I’ve had a lot of people ask me over the last couple of years why they can’t get the Copper Cat books in the States – you might think it’s to do with Wydrin trying to smuggle in copious amounts of rum, but actually its because no one had bought the rights. Thankfully, the most excellent legion of metal overlords have taken up the meady chalice and readers across the pond will finally be able to enjoy my nonsense. There will be new covers for the books, which I am very excited about – they are very different to the UK editions, but huge bags of fun, in my opinion.

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I was nominated for Best Newcomer at the British Fantasy Society awards

This was one of the biggest surprises of the year for me! And a totally lovely one. I didn’t win, but I did have a high old time at the banquet with fellow nominees Den Patrick and Ed Cox. It feels exceptionally cheesy to say it, but I’m honestly touched I was nominated at all, and super chuffed that The Copper Promise made such a favourable impression.

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I changed my day job!

I’m a copywriter at a creative agency now, which as well as sounding dead swish, also means I am a professional writer in both aspects of my life. When asked what I do, I can (almost) confidently say ‘I’m sort of well I’m a writer actually technically I suppose’ without looking too awkward. It’s fun, and it’s great to be using my actual skills between 9am and 5pm.

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I read lots of excellent books!

This is where it gets tricky, because I am awful at remembering what I read when, but off the top of my head here are a bunch of books that I enjoyed this year (If you want excellent reads, look them up): Fool’s Quest by Robin Hobb, The Devil of Nanking by Mo Hayder, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell, Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, Uprooted by Naomi Novik, Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neil, The Vagrant by Pete Newman, The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule, Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.

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So many amazing films

2015 gave us Age of Ultron (which I liked very much) and Mad Max: Fury Road which was fucking incredible. I’m currently obsessed with Star Wars: The Force Awakens (going to see it again soon) and feeling over the moon, tbh, that one of my favourite franchises has returned not just with a fantastic film, but with a fantastically diverse film. John Boyega is so enormously charismatic as Finn (how cool to finally get a Stormtrooper’s POV?), Rey is all I could have possibly wanted (I shan’t dally in spoiler territory, but thanks to her Star Wars has truly won my heart again) and like most of tumblr I now have a terrible crush on Poe Dameron (stormpilot trashlords unite).

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And we watched all of Thundercats. It was amazing. 

On that ridiculous fangirl note, I will stop waffling on, save to wish you all an excellent winter holiday and to hope that your 2016 will rock your socks off. I am looking forward to it.

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.

The Copper Cat Conquers New Territories!

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BOOOM!

Sometimes in publishing, you have sit on a piece of news for rather a while, as you wait for things to be sorted out and contracts to be drawn up in the blood of a righteous unicorn etc – sometimes it can feel like you’ve been sitting on a nugget of news for so long you have compressed it into a beautiful news-diamond of sparkling frustration.

Well, finally, I may present my twinkly gem of news: the top folks at Angry Robot have purchased the North American and Canadian rights for THE COPPER PROMISE and THE IRON GHOST.

That’s right, I’m COMING TO AMERICA BABY! (every time I think about this I am earwormed by the song at the end of Coming to America, a film I have seen at least 50,000 times – in fact, I once snuck into a cinema to see it. I know right?)

Anyway, I’m over the moon. The Copper Cat will be making her way across the pond, bringing mead, mayhem, monsters and magic. There will be a new cover too, which is beyond exciting, and for extra levels of glam it was announced on the Barnes & Noble blog, where I also wrote a guest piece on 21st century fantasy.

As ever, huge thanks to my wonderful agent, the now near-legendary Juliet Mushens, and to Angry Robot, for letting me be a part of the robot army. Now, where’s my giant mecha suit?

Cover reveal and blurb: THE SILVER TIDE

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I love this so so much. Every one of my covers has been tremendous, and I owe a big thanks to Patrick Insole and the excellent team at Headline for knocking it out of the park again. THESE DRAGONS GIVE ME LIFE.

Keep reading for more info on THE SILVER TIDE, the sequel to THE COPPER PROMISE and THE IRON GHOST:

Tales of the Black Feather Three and their exploits abound far and wide, and Wydrin of Crosshaven, Lord Aaron Frith and Sir Sebastian have become sell swords in demand. Having foiled powerful mages and evil magic, they now face a challenge unlike any before – in the form of Wydrin’s mother.

Devinia the Red, notorious pirate and captain of the Poison Chalice, is intent on finding the fabled treasure hidden within the jungles of the cursed island of Euriale. She needs the skills of her daughter Wydrin and her companions to get there, and our heroes cannot resist the lure of coin and adventure. But no explorer has returned from the heart of the island, and it’s not long before the Three find themselves in the clutches of peril. Deep within the island of the gods, there are remnants of forces best left undisturbed…

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!