Crash Landing – New Podcast

As you may be aware, maybe not, as well as writing novels and comics, I am also a podcaster.

Grouchy Old Geeks
IGrouchy Old Geeks‘ve been podcasting 11 years this July with my co-host Scott Grandison. It started out as Comic Book Outsiders but then morphed into Grouchy Old Geeks (as we both drift closer to middle age), where once a month we talk about comics, movies, TV, games and whatever else takes our fancy.

Bags of Action
Bags of ActionI also podcast with Pete Rogers (with whom I co-write comics) where once a month on Bags of Action we talk about an action movie that we’ve both watched in the previous weeks. We love classic action movies but we also dig into some of the modern blockbusters that have really surprised us.

Crash Landing
Crash Landing LogoToday sees the launch of a new podcast, Crash Landing. This one is more focused on books and fiction. It’s just me, talking to a guest, about 5 books that they couldn’t live without if they were being crash landed onto an alien world. So these are not necessarily their favourite books (although for some guests they are one and the same), they are books that are powerful, special and important to them and each episode I find out why. I love talking to other writers about process, their approach and their work, but often at gatherings with crowds there isn’t the time, space or sometimes just the inclination to talk in depth on these topics. Also at conventions when you get a group of writers on a panel you have to be considerate for the other and not just talk non-stop for an hour.

So this podcast gives me a chance to have a more detailed conversation with writers, one on one, about the books that shaped them and still hold special meaning to them. It’s always fascinating to hear a person’s choice and then see how it has influenced their own work and the direction of their life.

As ever, if you would like to support any of these podcasts, or others on the Geek Syndicate network, I would really appreciate it if you became a Patron via Patreon.

All podcasts are available for free on iTunes or via the Geek Syndicate website

Birthday Book Giveaway

My birthday is this month so I’m doing a book giveaway competition where you can win signed books.

All you need to do is post a review of one of my books on Amazon UK or Amazon USA, between March 1st and March 31st and send me proof (a screenshot will do) via email (stephenaryan56[at] together with your name and postal address. Also tell me if you’re a new reader or an existing reader. The reason for this is explained below.

Please read all of the rules carefully and if you have any questions let me know.

The rules:-

1. It has to be a new review on Amazon UK or Amazon USA and it has to be a review of one of my books. It can be a copy of an existing review on Goodreads if you’ve already done one on there. It has to be posted on Amazon during March 2018.

2. This competition is only open to people in the UK or the USA.

3. If you post a review of Battlemage, your name goes into the hat to win 1 of 5 signed copies of Bloodmage.

4. If you review Bloodmage, you get a chance to win 1 of 5 signed copies of Chaosmage.

5. If you review Chaosmage, you can win 1 of 5 signed copies of Mageborn.

6. And here’s the kicker, if you review Mageborn, you will have the opportunity to win 1 of 5 copies early copies of Magefall.

Note – The book is not published until September, however, I receive a few copies from my publisher a little while before publication date (usually a couple of weeks) and you will have a chance to win one of those copies. So you will have to wait a little longer to collect your prize, but you will still get a signed copy of Magefall before anyone else.

7. If you review Of Gods and Men, then :-

a) if you’re a new reader you’ll go into the hat to win 1 of 5 copies of Battlemage

b) if you’re an existing reader, let me know which book you’re interested in reading next.

c) If you’re up to date and have read everything,  then please read the next rule carefully.

8. You can increase the chance of winning a book by posting more than one review.

Your name will go into the hat one more time for each additional review.

For example, if you post a review of Battlemage and Bloodmage, you will have 2 chances to win Chaosmage instead of 1. You can have a maximum 5 chances of winning a copy of Magefall (that means posting reviews of Battlemage, Bloodmage, Chaosmage, Mageborn and Of Gods and Men) during March.

9. The names will be drawn randomly via a number generator. You will be informed early in April if you’ve won.

10. If you’ve spotted anything I’ve missed then let me know ASAP via email.

11. You do not have to post a long review for any of my books. It does not have to be five stars, but please give a little detail, even if it is just a couple of sentences, about what you liked.

Quick Book Poll

I’m very curious about who visits my website as I get some…unexpected visitors from time to time.

Les Imaginales Festival

I am delighted to be able to announce that this May, from 24-27th, I will be attending my first convention overseas, Les Imaginales in Epinal, France.

Les ImaginalesAs well as a host of European authors there are 5 British authors attending (RJ Barker, Ed McDonald, Al Robertson, Christopher Priest and me) and 5 American authors (Marie Brennan, Ellen Kushner, Nnedi Okorafor, Delia Sherman and Robin Hobb).

I am very excited to be attending this event for so many reasons, not least of all the amazing company I will be keeping. I’m going to really struggle not to fanboy over Robin Hobb but I’ve had a few months to prepare myself. I only started reading her work in the last few years. I was aware of her for a long time but as ever it was a matter of only so many hours in the day and too many books but I was determined to fill in that gap in my reading history. After racing through the first Assassins trilogy I’m now taking my time with the Liveship Traders trilogy.

Last year I visited France for the first time ever and the offices of my French publisher, Bragelonne in Paris, where I was awarded the first Hellfest Inferno prize for Battlemage. I had an amazing visit and everyone was so nice so I’m really looking forward to catching up with people.

Also from talking to other authors who’ve attended in previous years they’ve told me how wonderful a time they had at the festival. All of which adds up to me sitting on my suitcase as I can’t wait to go and meet French fantasy readers at the event!

Altered Carbon

Has anyone else been watching and has now finished Altered Carbon on Netflix? If not, you really should make a start.

No spoilers from me, but a brief summary. At the start I was watching it with the subtitles switched on as it was all new to me having not read the books, they mumbled a fair bit to begin with, and there were lots of new terms to try and understand. As you might  expect given some the barriers mentioned, I was mildly interested but wanted to give it a few episodes as I knew the book was very highly regarded as is the author, Richard Morgan.

By the time I was a few episodes in I had changed from thinking it was ok to the place where  I was looking at the time and thinking just one more episode, just one more and then bed.

I’ve now burned through the whole series, all 10 episodes, in less than a week.

Some highlights. The look of the show is amazing. Shiny and futuristic but also grimy and seedy down below where all the poor people live while the rich live in the clouds and nothing is beyond them.

Aesthetics aside, it was a fascinating show about family, what constitutes a family and how to build a new one, religion and faith. Given the premise there is obviously a huge focus on what it means to be human.  There’s also a lot about gender, death, redemption and revenge. Power and money are strong themes as well. The future echoes the present in many ways where the rich can do and say whatever they want and the poor suffer the most. It was definitely a story about imbalance in society, rebellion, justice and also love.

The cast was incredibly diverse too with both strong, layered and interesting roles for men and women. It’s not a spoiler to mention the basic premise of sleeving, moving your consciousness into other bodies, so as you can imagine this led to some fascinating scenes and really interesting challenges for the actors. Men in women’s bodies and vice versa. People of different faiths and ethnicity finding themselves in sleeves that are so different to their own skin. One actor, whose name I will have to dig out from IMDB, must have come in for one bit part but by the end of two episodes his role had been transformed into a rollercoaster of a ride. It was a gift of an acting job. I can’t say more without spoilers but I would loved to have seen the casting sheet for that particular role as it required some unique skills!

If you have the time it is well worth the effort of persisting past the first couple of episodes where I wasn’t sure what was going on really.

Have you seen it? What did you think?

Stuff this week

Of Gods and Men

Of Gods and Men novellaThe new digital and audio novella has now been published!!!!!

Of Gods and Men is a prequel to the entire series so far, it is set before the events of Battlemage, so if you’re brand new you can read it as an intro to my style of writing and the whole world. If you’re an existing reader then it gives more info on a favourite character that people often ask me about, Vargus, and it has easter eggs that feed into the second trilogy. It’s available on Amazon UK, and Amazon US, with links from there to the audio Audible version.

Reddit Fantasy AMA

REDDIT LOGOI’m doing an AMA tomorrow on Thursday 7th February. What’s an AMA? Well, it’s an Ask Me Anything thread where fantasy fans can log on and ask any question they like about the books, characters, my writing technique, publishing, my hobbies, computer games, my favourite cheese, pretty much anything really. For about 24 hours I will periodically log on and answer all questions on there.

Reddit is free to join and free to use if you’re not already on there. And the Fantasy section is where fans, and many authors, gather to geek out about all things fantasy related, be it books, TV, films, games or whatever.


Beer and Fantasy Books

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, or even a short time, you’ll know I like beer. More specifically real ale or craft beer as it is called in America, small batches of beer produced by independent or small breweries. I was lucky enough to be able to create my own special beer with a local brewery, Fownes Brewery, to celebrate the launch of Mageborn last October. We called it Mage, of course.

In this article I wrote just before Christmas I expand on beer in the fantasy genre as a whole and there’s also some photos from the Mageborn launch and photos of the Mage ale too. Enjoy!

Beer and fantasy books Medium Article

The Year Ahead

A new year and already I’ve got a number of plans, events and books plotted out for the coming 12 months. It looks as if it is going to be a busy one.


In less than a month in February, Of Gods and Men is published, a digital and audio novella. It will not be available in paperback or hardback. Maybe, perhaps, if I wrote a number of them then they could be collected in the future. But at this stage, it’s only ebook and audiobook, but the good news is we managed to get Matt Addiss back in to record it. He did the audio books for Battlemage, Bloodmage and Chaosmage. He’s also coming back for the new trilogy and has already recorded Mageborn.

So, Of Gods and Men, what’s it all about? It’s a prequel to Battlemage, and it focuses on Vargus. If you’ve never read anything by me before it works as a great intro and standalone story. It gives you a taste of my world, characters and style while also being a complete story.

If you’ve read everything then it provides more background on a popular character, but it also has info for the current series buried in there too. Yeah. So it was a bit tricky to write but was also enormous fun. The title is a direct nod to Steinbeck, as this story also focuses on two drifters moving from town to town in search of work. And yes, before someone says it, I know the original quote comes from Burns.

Magefall – Book 2, in the Age of Dread trilogy is being published on 6th September this year. This trilogy is much more integrated than the first. It focuses on the same main characters and there isn’t a time gap between them like there was with the previous trilogy.

Mage3I’m currently writing the last quarter of the first draft of Mage 3 (working title) of the Age of Dread. This will be published in 2019, probably around September or October time again. So later this year I will be editing it and then sorting out the proof.

Something New – Once Mage3 is done I will be getting stuck into something completely new and different. It’s already planned. The first chapter is already written but I need to look at it with fresh eyes, rewrite it, write a few more chapters and then send it off to my agent for her opinion. If all goes well we’ll pitch it to a publisher later this year and by Christmas I’ll be well on the way with book 1 in this new trilogy. New world. New characters.


There are a couple in the pipeline already, a couple in the planning stages and I’m really excited them but can’t talk about them just yet. More info on them as soon as I can share. I might be looking at doing a more northern signing event for Magefall later this year too. Just an idea but as well as hopefully doing one in Birmingham (my now-adopted home city), I might be drifting up to Manchester or even further north to Liverpool. If anyone reading this is up that way let me know.



World’s Strongest Man 2017 – The Final

Spoilers ahead if you’ve not watched it yet.

So this year, the final rested very much on the broad shoulders of one very large man.

In the run up to this year’s celebratory 40th anniversary event I saw a number of surprises. And even having known for months about who would win (due to someone spoiling it online) the final was still a surprise in many ways.

Big Z is a legend. A four time champion. He’s been in the sport for a long time and was just not at his best this year due to recovering from a recent injury. He still showed some of his old magic, here and there, but he was not on form and not a serious contender from the first event.

With him out of the running I wasn’t sure who would end up on the podium. Martins Licis is a remarkable guy. Only his second year and he ended up in the final again. He reminds me, in some ways, of Brian Shaw’s old training partner, Mike Burke. He appeared on the scene a few years ago and was steadily improving. He’s as tall as Brian and seemed to be getting better and better. Licis has youth, energy and so much passion. Strongman is definitely a growing sport and in ten years time, when some of the legends might have to eventually retire, if he is still competing, and if he hasn’t won already, Licis will be on top. Him and the Polish giant, Kieliszkowski, are definitely the future.

Like Mark Felix, Nick Best from America shows that age is sometimes just a number. He won his heat and qualified for the final for the first time. A brave performance but at this level the power is incredible and he just didn’t have it in comparison to some of the others.

Thor has been on the podium since 2012. Every year he was pipped to the post by Big Z or Brian Shaw as they passed the title back and forth between them. Every year he fights hard and every year he’s just inched out. He seemed to be on form this year, despite a virus that left his face half paralysed. It had no impact on his strength which he proved when he and Eddie Hall were the two men left standing in the deadlift. But I always thought it was going to fall to Hall as he has the world record. Brian Shaw came in 3rd, seemed to hurt himself and wisely didn’t go up to the final weight.

There was a bit of controversy in the Viking Press, which having now thought about it, I think the end result was fair. As Eddie Hall had won the previous event, he was allowed to go last. Arguably he has some of the strongest shoulders in the competition and as such he asked what had Thor did, as he was in the lead, and so Hall did one one rep to win the event and then stopped with time to spare. It was only after his performance that the Icelandic coach came forward to contest Thor’s result, which if allowed would have put him on par with Hall. It seems a bit petty to me, as if they’d done it earlier, Hall would have just done two more reps as he still had plenty in the tank and hadn’t even started using his legs.

Moving away from that, some of the other athletes continued to impress me, including Janashia who definitely has a lot more to give as he’s still a young man. Big Loz did well in some of the events but it was Kieliszkowski who surprised me the most. He’s the lightest man in the final and yet he was the fastest in the plane pull. Amazing stuff.

In the end, the podium looked to be set. Thor, Shaw and Eddie Hall. It really came down to who would come out on top. I was ultimately delighted when Eddie Hall won becoming the first Brit to win the title in a long long time. He’d definitely earned it and last year he did very well with an injury and still made it to the podium.

The final surprise of the night came when after winning Eddie Hall said on camera that we would never again see him at the World’s Strongest Man. His goal was to win it, and he’d achieved it. He now wants to spend more time with his wife and children, being a husband and a father. He was very emotional and given all that he’d sacrificed to achieve his title I can’t blame him for getting a bit upset. A remarkable feat.

So, WSM 2018. Who will win? If Big Z is back on form, he stands a chance. If Shaw comes back hungry to win a 5th title he could win. If Licis continues to improve he could land on the podium. If Thor focuses and keeps pushing he could win. Terry Hollands has shredded the fat and looks lean and mean. The question is, does he now have the strength without his power belly and the cuddly factor? I guess we’ll see in some of the regional events that lead up to WSM. There are so many new faces coming up now, like Rob Kearney from America, that one of them could surprise everyone and land on the podium, upsetting the apple cart.

The sport has never been bigger and I’m delighted to see the crowds getting larger every year. I’ve been a fan my entire life and now I’m glad to see so many other people getting into the sport.