Category Archives: Events

MCM Comic Con London Schedule

MCM Comic Con LondonI will be appearing at MCM Comic Con London in just over a week and a bit’s time. This huge event is being held at the Excel Centre in London.

Below are a list of my panels and signings and I will be mooching around the event on Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th October. I hope to see some of you there!

Saturday

17:00pm – 17:45pmCreator Stage: So, you want to be a writer

If you’ve ever wanted to be a writer than this panel is for you.  Moderator and Author Ed Cox (The Relic Guild trilogy) joins authors Marieke Nijkamp (Before I let go) Stephen Aryan (Magefall) Lucy Hounsom (The World Maker Trilogy) Tim Pratt (The Wrong Stars) and Jeanette NG (Under the Pendulum Sun) as they discuss what it takes to be a writer.

18:00pm – 18:30pm – Forbidden Planet SIGNING

Stephen Aryan (Magefall) Tim Pratt (The Wrong Stars) Lucy Hounsom (The World Maker Trilogy) Marieke Nijkamp (Before I Let Go) Jeanette NG (Under the Pendulum Sky)

Sunday

12:00pm – 12:45pm – Creator Stage: Orbit Presents

Orbit Authors Nicholas Eames (Bloody Rose) Tasha Suri (Empire of Sand) Mike Carey (The Girl with All the Gifts) Tade Thompson (Rosewater) Heather Child (Everything About You) RJ Baker (King of Assassins) Stephen Aryan (Mage Born) talk all things Orbit

15:30pm – 16:00pm – Forbidden Planet SIGNING

Daniel Polansky (A City Dreaming) Stephen Aryan (Magefall) Christa Faust (Batman: A Killing Joke) Tim Pratt (The Wrong Stars)

16:00pm – 16:45pm – Creator Stage: Writers Block

Authors Tim Pratt (The Wrong Stars) Daniel Polansky (A City Dreaming) Marieke Nijkamp (Before I Let Go) Christa Faust (Batman: A Killing Joke) and Stephen Aryan (Magefall) discuss the dreaded “writer’s block” and the various ways that it can be overcome.

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Other Worlds Event – Sat 6th October

Just a quick post to serve as a reminder that next Saturday, 6th October in Nottingham, I will be taking part in the Other Worlds event at the Nottingham Writers’ Studio.

This is a full day of panels and workshops. The schedule and more information about the event is available on the website here, as well as how to buy tickets for the day.

I’m going to be there from mid-morning and I’m doing a couple of panels and a workshop on Fantasy Worldbuilding, with a special subtitle – Consider the Potato. All will be revealed about what the heck I’m talking about in the workshop which is going to be interactive and hopefully a lot of fun. All you need is a pen and an imagination!

Click here for more information about the event and to book your tickets

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Magefall publication event

To celebrate the publication of Magefall, book 2 in the Age of Dread trilogy, I will be taking part in an event at Forbidden Planet in Birmingham.

This will be on Wednesday 5th September from 5-6pm. I will be there with Anna Stephens and GX Todd and we might do a bit of a talk and Q and A before the signing, depending on timing.

If you can’t attend but would still like a signed book then you can order it from Forbidden Planet via their website here

Tickets for this event are free so you just need to turn up on the day.

To find the FP Birmingham store the address is  – 74 Bull Street, Birmingham, B4 6AD

I hope to see you there!

 

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Achievement Unlocked: Blacksmith

Here’s the thing. I write fantasy books for a living featuring warriors and wizards. In every single book there are many characters waving weapons around. Swords, axes, bows, daggers, the occasional mace, spears and all manner of weapons designed to main, mutilate and murder. But I’ve never done a day’s work as a blacksmith in a forge in my life…..until now!

BLACKSMITH badge

 

 

 

The moment I entered the forge the smiths all asked us level 1 noobs, what we did for a living. I then spent the rest of the day apologising for everything wrong in my books about blacksmiths, making weapons and forges. I do research but some things are always going to be wrong. The owner of the forge, John, promised to seek out my first book and read it. So I had to apologise to him some more.

I wouldn’t say I got everything wrong, but just like any other craft or skill, unless you do the thing, you won’t know what it’s really like. Just talk to Mike Shevdon about archery in films and TV and he’ll put you straight! I’ve done 2 years with a recurve bow so I’ve already unlocked my archery achievement. Now I know slightly more about being a blacksmith than before but there’s still an awful lot to learn before I could comfortably say I know 1) how a forge works and more specific to me 2) how to make weapons.

One of my birthday presents this year from back in March was an experience day in a forge making something. I thought it would be great fun to make my own sword. In one day.

A Sword in a Day

Every professional blacksmith is now laughing at me a lot. Making a sword takes time. A lot more time than one day, which I didn’t have. The people on Forged in Fire make it look easy because they’re professionals and they have something I lacked – editing. It also takes skill and precision, neither of which I naturally possess when it comes to working metal. Nevertheless, I had one day in the forge and at the end I was determined to come away with something. It’s a sword to be sure, but we cheated. A lot. Ultimately the goal was to have fun, learn about being in a forge and have a great experience which I did.

Here’s the other thing about being a blacksmith. It’s hard work. It didn’t help that by chance I happened to be in the forge on one of the hottest days of the year so far, but hey, I didn’t know what the weather was going to be like in early July in the UK. It could have been raining or cloudy.  There might have been snow on the ground. By chance it was hot in the morning and then over 30 degrees in the afternoon and it was even warmer in the forge.

The Riddle of Steel

So I started with a big chunk of steel. No, I didn’t fold my own metal. Then I used a grinder to shape the tip of the sword and after that came the toughest part. After heating up a section of the metal one piece at a time I then firmly began to hammer the edge flat on an anvil. Now, at the start of this process, I had a piece of metal long enough for a 5-6 foot longsword. After 3 hours of working the metal I hadn’t really progressed very far. Partly because it was hard work and very hot, but mostly because I was a total beginner and it’s really not that easy. So we chopped off a chunk of the steel and made it a slightly shorter sword.

Here’s the other thing I didn’t realise. When you start beating the metal one way it tends to bend, so I then had to flip the steel over and beat the other side to try and create a straight weapon. Then flip it back to do side 3 and flip it again to do side 4 of the same section before the metal grew too cold. If you didn’t manage it in the given time then the metal had to go back into the fire to heat up. Repeat and rinse. Over and over. For hours. So, my blade is kind of straight. Just don’t look down the length of it!

So, short of time, I skipped a bit and then jumped to using an axle grinder to sharpen the sides of the steel and give it an edge. This got me up to about 3-4 foot. There was the option of making the crossguard, but with the time remaining and my skill level, it would have been basic. So I opted for something that looked a bit cooler and was pre-made! Normally you’d continue shaping the rest of the steel, cut the tang, work on the grip and pommel but we fudged a few parts with welding and the like. The end result looks like a sword and it is actually fairly sharp (in places) but it’s not a weapon I’d use in a real sword fight as it might break.

I haven’t named the sword yet but feel I should at some point. Overall the day was enormous fun, I learned a great deal, have an even healthier respect for blacksmiths and weaponsmiths than I did before and I came home with my own sword. All in all a pretty good day which is why I look so smug.

finished weapon

 

 

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Back home from Les Imaginales

I’ve just returned from Les Imaginales, a French literature festival which takes place in the town of Epinal. Without a doubt it’s the best book-related event I’ve ever attended.

In terms of organisation and how it is run, it is very different to UK, or US conventions from what I’ve been told about them. Sponsored by the town, and a number of local businesses, the four day event is free to attend and held in a park. With dozens of craft and book tents, 3 big marquees for panels, and a huge signing tent for authors, the all-ages crowd could come and go as they pleased. With lots of shady places under trees to get out of the sun (it was super hot and sticky in the tents) crowds of people drifted about to visit the festival or wander into the nearby town centre for meals.

On two of the days bus loads of local school children were brought in and there were also art exhibitions, period weapon demonstrations, body painting competitions and all kinds of stuff going on that I didn’t have time to see. A real festival of the creative arts. There was also a fair bit of cosplay. Bravo to the guy dressed up as Conan and also the stormtroopers who must have been sweating so much!

 

 

I’m starting to recover now from the event but my voice is still a bit tired from talking so much. The festival celebrated fantasy, SF and the fantastic, which the French use as an umbrella term to include horror writers and I believe the supernatural. The event was brilliant, the organisers couldn’t do enough, and the many volunteers who helped run the event worked tirelessly, including all of the great booksellers.

Also, because my ability to speak in French is limited to what I learned before I did my GSCEs I had to work really hard to break the scar tissue off some old memories. It allowed me to speak to people on a very basic level but everyone genuinely appreciated the effort which was lovely. Thankfully RJ Barker, Ed McDonald and I were provided with interpreters who did a brilliant job translating what other panellists and the moderator were saying, and then they had to translate our rambling nonsense into French. So my thanks to Helene, Romain and Claudine for all of their hard work.

I also had a chance to get to know some lovely authors including my fellow UK peeps, RJ Barker , Ed McDonald, Al Robertson and, of course, Christopher Priest. Also, over the course of sitting beside him for 4 days straight I got to know Steven Erikson a little too. Below is a picture of Steven Erikson, me and Romain, trying our best not to look tired and sweaty!

I met a number of other lovely authors including Marie Brennan, Robin Hobb, Delia Sherman, Ellen Kushner, plus too many great European authors to name. At times the whole thing also felt a bit like a kind of holiday camp for writers, especially the long breakfast chats which were worth the trip alone.

After the festival I spent a couple of days in Paris with my French publisher, Bragelonne, during which I had a little time to explore the city. It’s an amazing city and I need to go back and see more of it.

If any author has the opportunity to attend Les Imaginales I would highly recommend it. The French fans are so passionate about fantasy and the festival was just a brilliant experience. Now, I’m off to get some sleep and rest my voice.

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Fantasy Authors in Conversation – Tuesday 24th April – Stafford

Fantasy authors in conversationIn a couple of weeks time I will be in conversation with GX Todd and Storm Constantine at Stafford Library on Tuesday 24th April.

Last week I joined Brad Beaulieu and Anna Stephens at Waterstones in Birmingham for a similar event where we talked about a range of topics including world building, creating characters and planning stories. As it turned out we all have a slightly different approach so it made for a fascinating evening  talking to them about our differences and similarities.

The next event at Stafford library is from 7-9pm on Tuesday 24th April and tickets are priced at £3.

If you would like to reserve a ticket you can contact the library on their web page here.

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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!

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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.

Books

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.

Events

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.

 

 

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What happened at MCM

Last weekend was the super busy London MCM Comic Con. For those who’ve never been it’s a massive event at the Excel Centre in London with tens and tens of thousands of people in attendance. I’m always amazed at how many people attend and again it was slightly overwhelming to walk through the vast crowds, many of who were dressed in cosplay. I’ll be honest, I didn’t recognise about 50% of the cosplay because many of them were from anime, computer games I don’t play (you can tell how old I am because I still call them computer games!), comics and other things I’ve probably never even heard of. Even so it was amazing to see the time and effort that people had put into their costumes. I saw several women with fairy-like wings that moved independently with some sort of motor. Very clever and creative.

Both Marvel and DC had a presence at the show this year. Marvel had taken over a whole section and had lots of cool things you could do, as well as see, including some costumes from the Thor Ragnarok film and forthcoming Black Panther film. There were also some cool statues of Captain America, Spider-man, Iron Man and the Hulk.

When not mooching around the show trying not to buy everything I went to a couple of talks and was delighted and charmed by Hayley Atwell. She was funny, warm and spoke about her time on the Marvel films and Agent Carter with great affection. It was wonderful to hear about how her relationship with various actors, such as Chris Evans, had developed over time as they’ve now worked together in the same universe on several films.

I was also on a few writing panels during the weekend alongside other science fiction and fantasy authors. Below are a few photos from our panels ,as well as Ed Cox attempting to get everyone to put on a serious author face. Without a doubt the funniest panel during the weekend was one moderated by RJ Barker. The audience, and everyone  on the panel, had no clue what was about to hit them and it was hilarious. Ben Aaronovitch was in tears several times and Guy Adams had a few funny rants.

The weekend was a lot of fun. I got to spent time with some old friends, met a few faces and came home exhausted but happy. I must thank Travis from MCM for inviting me back again and maybe I’ll see you at the next event, which is the one day Sledge-Lit festival in Derby on Saturday 25th November.

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MCM London Comic Con this weekend

MCM London Comic ConThe title says it all really. This weekend I will be attending the MCM London Comic Con alongside some other fantastic fantasy and science fiction authors.

The event is 3 days but my fellow authors and I will be appearing on panels and doing signings on Saturday and Sunday. After each panel there will be a signing with books for sale in the room for all of the authors appearing on each panel.

Apparently, as well as authors, there are some other guests attending the event! Who knew? People like Anthony Mackie, Hayley  Atwell, Manu Bennett, David Bradley, Andrew Scott, Julian Glover, three of the boys from Red Dwarf…the list goes on and on. There’s going to be tonnes of cosplay, comics, Marvel have a big presence there this year, video games, manga, the list goes on and on.

In May this year at the event they had a footfall of something like 110K people over the three days making it the biggest convention in the UK. I wonder if they will exceed that number this weekend?

Check out the Author corner for the full list of authors attending and keep an eye out for the panel schedule in the Platinum suite. See you there, and if not, next month I’m in Derby at Sledge-Lit on Saturday 25th November, but more info on that soon.

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