Chaosmage Giveaway

Chaosmage Stephen AryanTo celebrate the forthcoming release of Mageborn, book 1 in the new Age of Dread trilogy which starts in October, I’m doing a Goodreads giveaway of Chaosmage.

Win 1 of 5 signed copies of Chaosmage, posted free, worldwide.

All you need to do is be a member of Goodreads (which is free to join) and enter the Mageborn by Stephen Aryangiveaway. That’s it.

Quick reminder, Chaosmage is the THIRD book in the first trilogy (The Age of Darkness). Once you’ve read it and the first two books, you’ll be all up to date in time for Mageborn, October 3-5th depending on where you are in the world.

Enter the Goodreads Giveaway here

Pre-order Mageborn here on Amazon UK, Waterstones, Amazon USA

Mageborn Cover Reveal

Feast your eyes on the cover for Mageborn, book 1 in the new Age of Dread trilogy, which starts this October. Also below is the text from the back of the book to whet your appetite for what is in store for new and old readers alike! Available to pre-order now or soon from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstones,  and all good local bookshops. Or borrow it from your local library.

I will be doing two signing events in Birmingham and London during the first week in October. More info closer to the time.
Mageborn by Stephen Aryan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been ten years since the battlemage war, where thousands died as mages sundered the earth and split the sky.

Habreel believes eradicating magic is the only way to ensure a lasting peace. He will do anything to achieve his goal, even if it means murdering every child born with the ability.

As deaths involving magic increase and the seat of magical learning – the Red Tower – falls under suspicion, two students and one lawbringer must do everything they can to combat Habreel and his followers, before magic disappears from the world for good.

Beer and books

Fownes Brewery LogoI am delighted to announce that I will be working with a local brewery, Fownes, to create a special limited-edition real ale to celebrate the publication of Mageborn.

Next month I will taking a trip to Fownes Brewery, based in Gornal, Dudley, to help them brew and bottle a special beer ahead of October’s launch. I have been a long term fan of real ale (there are even a few reviews on this website) and wanted to do something special to celebrate the start of this second trilogy.

A few months ago I paid Fownes brewery a visit to discuss my cunning plan. Over a cup of tea (it was before midday) I found I had a lot in common with brothers Tom and James Fownes, the brewers,  including a love of fantasy books, comics, the animated version of Hobbit from years ago, Jackson and Livingstone fighting fantasy novels and, of course, real ale. My favourite type of ale are typically dark beers and porters, which they also like to brew, so it sounded like a match made in heaven!

As a result of the brothers common interests the brewery and all of their ales are fantasy-themed. Just look at the gorgeous artwork they have on their beers!

We actually tried to sort out a real ale a while ago, and for those with keen eyes, the brothers have a cameo in Bloodmage. But at the time I was living in another part of the country and it was more difficult to coordinate. Now that I’m in the West Midlands it was very easy for me to pop over to chat it through.

So, I will provide more info on the real ale, such as where and when it will be available once I’ve brewed it, but by the time Mageborn comes out in October, it will be ready, if not before!

I also hope to have some bottles with me at both Mageborn signing events in early October in Birmingham and London. Fingers crossed.

Holiday reads 2017

It’s that time of year again. It’s time for me to go away for a week’s holiday in the sun. I’ve been saving up some books, hoarding them to enjoy at my leisure without distraction or interruption for hours on end. I’m also taking some books I’ve heard a great deal about and want to try, so reading them in the sun beside the pool is the ideal time to soak into some new worlds by writers who are new to me.

I typically take 5 books for the week and usually get through most of them. I’m also going with one book in hand so 6 in a week is pushing it, but we’ll see. It depends on the flight, the heat, interruptions, how easy/difficult it is for me to get into the book and so many other things. This year I will be reading the following.

Age of Assassins by RJ BarkerAge of Assassins by RJ Barker – I was lucky enough to be sent an ARC by Orbit, so I’m currently reading this at the moment. I’ve met RJ a few times at events over the last couple of years and he’s a very nice guy with a dark sense of humour which appeals to me. This is his debut which is due out in August. Assassins, intrigue, twisty turny plots, comedy and, slight spoiler for chapter 1, night soil! I’m two chapters in and I’ve laughed a few times already which is a very good sign. Fans of Robin Hobb and her assassins books should definitely take a look at this.

The Last Colony by John ScalziThe Last Colony by John Scalzi – I’ve not read many of his books and this is only my third. I’ve seen he is very popular in America but I stumbled across him by accident when I was after some interesting, character focused SF and a friend recommended him. This is the third book in his Old Man’s War universe, and the books are super lean. I mean the prose is so tight and sharp you could cut yourself on it and it reads like an old school pulp novel. That’s not a criticism at all, I love the style and it’s a funny, creative and clever read. Really enjoyed the first two so this is a nice comfortable read that I know I am going to enjoy.

The Malice by Peter NewmanThe Malice by Peter Newman – Peter’s first book in this series, The Vagrant, is a great book but the main character can also be divisive because he doesn’t talk. At all. That seemed to annoy some people but I thought it was a very interesting and different approach, and that’s what I want in a fantasy book, not another me-too product. The story is a mix of SF, fantasy and horror, set in a sort of post-apocalytic world with demons, magic swords, a goat and plenty of weirdness. It took me a little while to get used to his writing style which is very staccato at times, but once I settled into it the pages flew by. I’ve been saving this one for a while so I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into it and seeing how the world and characters have developed since the first book.

The Relic Guild by Ed CoxThe Relic Guild by Ed Cox – This sounds like such a corker of a book. I’ve been hanging on to this one for a while and can’t wait to read it in peace with no distractions. A lush detailed world. High concept fantasy packed with ideas. action packed and fuelled with magic. Count me in! I’ve known Ed for a few years via conventions and there’s always that embarrassing thing where you meet a fellow author and feel bad for not having read at least one of their books. The problem is there are so many books I want to read now and just not enough time. There’s also the issue of  – what happens if you don’t like it? What if they ask the next time you meet up? What do you say? I’m very confident that I will love this book but even if it wasn’t for me Ed would just shrug, say fair enough and that would be the end of it. He wouldn’t go away to plot my downfall, he’s one of the nicest, warmest authors I’ve ever met. Smart as a whip too, don’t you know, he used to lecture in creative writing so he knows his apples.

A Darker Shade of Magic by VE SchwabA Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab – This is the wildcard for me. I’ve never read a book by this author before, but there again, I’ve heard very good things. I recently listened to an interview with her on a podcast and I was so impressed I immediately picked up this first book in the series. This sounds like a very creative and inventive novel with some fantastic ideas. People always ask authors where we come up with ideas. What I find remarkable when reading other people’s work is that I know I would never come up with an idea similar to theirs. Those are the kind of books I enjoy reading the most because it’s so unfamiliar. Different versions of London. Magic. Flawed and well realised characters.

Control Point by Myke ColeControl Point by Myke Cole – This is the second wildcard book for me. A new author to me but once I’ve seen and read a fair bit about. Soldiers with powers. Black Hawk Down meets X-Men. Written by someone who has served in the armed forces, so he knows what he’s talking about, with a huge dollop of creativity. Sounds very intriguing. Again, this is something I’d never write myself so I’m curious to see how he builds the story and the world. High action, fast paced and thrilling is what I’m expecting.

 

 

And that’s a wrap

Just a short post to say the first draft of book 5,  (well book 2 in the new Age of Dread trilogy), is done.

The first draft is raw, rough and it still needs a lot of work, but the main framework of the story is now done. I’ve had this story in my head for over a year and it’s taken me months and months to gradually shape the idea into a real thing. It’s changed a bit, despite planning it ahead of time, and I’ve already got a few things in mind I need to revise before anyone sees it. Then once I’m relatively happy with it I will send it on to my editors.

I know it is going to be edited several times and I’m going to be revising this text for the next year or so, but even so I want to get this current version to a comfortable state. There are a number of things I need to fix. Namely writing tics. Things I’ve realised I’ve started to develop, and some I didn’t even know I was doing but have been pointed out by other people. They’re crutches or cliches I might use too often so I’m going to file them off for starters. Other things are part of the plot that already stick out like a sore thumb. Polish the dialogue to make it more natural. There’s a list.

Now is actually the best time to do this, because once it goes into the publishing process I’m on much tighter deadlines, and working on the next book, so my focus is split. I’m ahead of my deadline at the moment so I have time to knuckle down and sort it now. Hopefully by doing so it will pay off later when I get my first set of editorial notes back on this new book. That’s the plan anyway.

Once this goes off to the publisher it’s back to fleshing out my notes for book 6 and then the hard work of a first draft begins again! No rest for the wicked and all that.

French Interview

Earlier this year I went on a very quick overnight visit to Paris to attend an event to celebrate the first Hellfest Inferno Prize. This was at the offices of my French publisher, Bragelonne, and it was also my first trip ever to France. It was a great party atmosphere and everyone was having a lot of fun, as the video shows.

I was a finalist up against some incredible fantasy writers and was delighted to be nominated. After a public vote I was announced as the winner.

Below is a link to an interview in English with French subtitles I conducted while I was there, intercut with me picking up the award, talking about my books and my influences. There are no spoilers in the video so it doesn’t reveal anything from the plot.

Real Ale: Plum Porter – Titanic Brewery

I’ve not done one of these in ages, and I’m not really sure why. I’m busy but I’ve also still been regularly drinking real ale, so I’ve no real excuse. Now I’m at the point where I look at the shelves in my local shop, farm shop, supermarket and say ‘ Have I tried that one?’ and I’m not really sure. So this is now becoming a personal record as well!

So, my first real ale post  in a while and it is my favourite type of ale – a porter.

Plum Porter Titanic Brewery“This beer is dark strong and well rounded; the richness of such a rotund beer is brought to an even keel by the late addition of Goldings hops and natural plum flavouring. Take the opportunity and go for the low hanging fruit, this sumptuous beer really is a plum!”

This is a rather special porter. I will say right now, I don’t like fruit beers, that is any that say ‘a hint of citrus’ or ‘a zesty finish’. They are just not for me. If I’m browsing in the shop and I see that on the tasting notes, it goes back on the shelf. Orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit in a beer are not for me. I’ll have the fruit and the beer separate. So, having said all of that, a fruit porter. My initial response was to put it back but it’s not citrus and I’ve had coffee, toffee, liquorice and smoky porters, but never a plum porter.

This is a really tasty beer. It’s not zesty, but also the plum taste is very clear. You can smell it and the colour is a rich purple when you hold it up to the light. And I’m delighted to say it really works. The ale has a slightly bitter aftertaste, more than I was expecting, but it’s not unpleasant. Also at 4.7% it’s not too heavy at all and could make for a good session ale. It has won several awards over the years and I can see why. A really pleasant surprise and much tastier than I was expecting.

The Plum Porter is brewed by Titanic brewery based out of Stoke on Trent which was founded in 1985. So it’s relatively new, if you can count a 30 plus year old brewery to be new these days. There is a lot of information on their website about them and all of their beers, including a chocolate and a vanilla stout, and a cappuccino stout! They’re not a brewery I’ve come across before but since moving to a different part of the country the local shops stock all sorts of new beers. I will definitely try another of theirs in the future and keep an eye out for their stouts.

MCM London Comic Con Roundup

MCM May 2017

MCM May 2017

A little over a week ago, during the bank holiday weekend, I attended the MCM London Comic Con which is the largest convention we have in the UK. Last year had a record crowd of about 133K and I expect the numbers for this year will be as high. It takes place twice a year and the next one is in October, so make a note in your calendar.

 

It’s a real cross genre geek pop-culture event, with a mix of TV and film stars,  games companies, film and TV companies like DC and Warner Brothers, comic book creators, manga and anime, lots of cosplay and a whole gaggle of fiction authors.

Batman catching up on the news in Gotham

About thirty authors over the course of weekend took part in a range of panels and discussions covering all sorts of topics from the weird to the hilarious. I took part in two panels on Sunday, but before that I popped by on Saturday to take a look around, catch up with some old friends, make some new friends over a few pints, and nose around the convention.

The event itself was packed and it was a gloriously hot summer day, so the outdoor area was awash with hundreds of people enjoying the weather, many in bright and colourful cosplay. From a distance it looked like a weird field of moving flowers dancing about in the sun.

Cosplay in the sun

Inside it was cooler but there were so many people it was difficult to move around in the main foyer, but the halls themselves were large enough that you were never squeezed in too tight and there was a lot to see in the two massive halls. I picked up a few bargains on Saturday, then did the usual author thing and went to the pub with some fellow writers.

Big thanks to the kind traffic warden on Saturday night who helped me find my hotel when the maps on my phone proved to be utterly useless. I was down to 1% battery at this point and I was starting to think I’d have to just call a taxi. It turns out it was only a couple of minutes walk from the DLR station but it was a totally new part of London to me, but I will know for next time if I ever stay there again.

Sunday was a lot more relaxed with one panel focused on Orbit, old versus new. Somehow Jamie Sawyer and I, despite both only having one trilogy out each, were on the Old side of the table, versus the youngsters who had just debuted or are due to later this year. It was a funny and weird panel and despite it being fairly early on a Sunday morning it went well and the audience seemed to enjoy it. The afternoon panel was about creating fight scenes and that led to a few laughs from the audience. Afterwards I signed some books and then it was all over. I was super tired after a long day and a half, but it was really good to meet up with some fellow authors.

I also got to meet fellow Orbit author, Nick Eames, who made the long journey from Canadia-land for the event. Sadly I didn’t have any Timbits to make him feel welcome, but we are getting our first Tim Hortons in the UK very soon. Also a quick hello to lots of other authors I chatted to over the weekend including Jamie Sawyer, Jen Williams, Adrian Selby, Ed Cox, Ed McDonald, Claire North, Mike Carey, RJ Barker, GX Todd, Laura Lam, Kim Curran, Jason Arnopp, and anyone else I’ve forgotten. The moderators on our panels were also awesome and thanks to the press officer at Orbit, Nazia, for being excellent as ever. Organising authors is much like herding cats and we had several examples of that over the weekend!

If anyone took any photos during the panels please let me know and I’ll add them to the post. Right then, back to the first draft of book 5 for me.

London Comic Con Schedule

MCM London Comic Con

The MCM London Comic Con has updated their website and added the Author Corner section. So I can now provide details of the panels I will be taking part in, on Sunday 28th May. There are panels throughout the weekend so follow the link above for information on all of the panels, and my two are detailed below.

There will definitely be a signing after the first panel, I’m not sure about after the second. I hope to see some of you there.

Orbit Presents:  Old Vs New

Orbit has been publishing the best genre fiction since time began.  Okay.  That part we made up, but they have been in the game for a very long time.  Forty years to be exact!  And we figured the perfect way to celebrate that milestone would be to team a bunch of veteran Orbit writers against a bunch of rookie Orbit writers and watch the sparks fly!  Join veteran authors M.R. Carey, Claire North, Stephen Aryan and Jamie Sawyer as they go up against young guns Nicholas Eames, RJ Barker, Jason Arnopp and Adrian Selby in a battle of steely wills and wily wit.  Actually they’ll probably just shout juvenile insults at each other but it should be fun to watch nonetheless.

  • Time: Sunday 28th May, 11:15am – 12:30pm
  • Room: Lower Platinum Suite
  • Author Signing

It’s Clobbering Time – Fighting & Fantasy:

Everyone loves a good fight, especially in fantasy, and the nastier the better.  Join authors Ed McDonald, Jen Williams, RJ Barker, Stephen Aryan, Nicholas Eames and Ed Cox as they talk about what it takes to write a great fight scene.

  • Time: Sunday 28th May, 2:15pm – 3:30pm
  • Room: Lower Platinum

How to find a literary agent

Next month on Saturday 6th May in London, I will be taking part in a Guardian Masterclass on How to find a literary agent. The masterclass is being led by my agent, Juliet Mushens, and both Peter Newman and I will be there for part of the event.

If you’re a new writer, the process of getting your book into print might seem a bit daunting. This class will demystify the publishing process and reveal what agents look for in fiction submissions.

In the space of three hours, you’ll learn everything from how to prepare the perfect submissions package to how to edit your manuscript and pitch your novel to an agent.

More information and how to book a ticket is available on the Guardian Masterclass website for 6th May, but there are also other dates available later in the year in September and December.

I hope to see some of you there!