Feb – More events and stuff

Eesh, it’s already been a couple of weeks already since my last post. This is going to be a quick one. So book stuff first, then some event stuff, and then some award stuff.

Book 4

We’ve settled on a title for book 4 (the first in the new Age of Dread trilogy). However, now comes the part where the publisher goes away to check it doesn’t already exist, so unfortunately I can’t reveal it just yet. I’ve also sent in some thoughts for the cover and I’m in the middle of my edits. So book 4 continues to roll forward at a good pace and it will be a real, shiny, physical thing by October of this year. That seems so far away and yet also just around the corner.

Events

I’m doing another one with those lovely people at Waterstones in Birmingham. Only this time it’s not a publishing workshop, it’s just an evening of SFF goodness alongside two other local authors,  James Brogden and Ren Warom. It’s on Friday 10th March at 6.30pm, and you need to get in touch with Waterstones to reserve a seat, but the event is FREE. We’ll be chatting about our work, influences, getting published and whatever else comes into our heads. So come along, get some books signed and enjoy!

Don’t forget I’m also going to be at Eastercon in April, 14-17th, at the Hilton Metropole, in Birmingham, which is basically right next door to the NEC and super easy to get to via train from Birmingham International. I’m hoping to be on some panels but no news yet.

Battlemage shortlisted for Hellfest Inferno Prize

Battlemage has been shortlisted by my French publisher, Bragelonne, for the first Hellfest Inferno Prize! Hellfest Inferno is a readers’ choice award launched by Bragelonne and Hellfest, a very famous French metal music festival. Voting is via the following website where you can win a 3 day free pass to the Hellfest festival and voting closes on March 6th with the winner announced later in the month, so get voting!

That’s it for now, I’m off to do some more editing.

January – quick update

Happy New Year! Just a few quick things to mention.

Interview

My interview with Mur Lafferty on the I Should Be Writing podcast ep369 is now available on iTunes and also here on her website.

So if you’re an aspiring author and want to hear some good and varied advice from all kinds of authors, then check out the podcast.

Events

In about two weeks time I’m at Birmingham Waterstones for a publishing workshop on How to edit your novel alongside 2 other authors (Gemma Todd and Gillian McAllister) and an editor/agent (Amanda Rutter). The event is free and tickets are still available. Contact the bookshop to reserve a seat.

We’ll be talking about our experiences with editing our novels, the standard steps a novel goes through when you work with an agent and then an editor at a publisher. We’ll also be answering questions from the audience and there will be copies of my books and Gemma’s first awesome book, Defender, if you want signed copies.

Eastercon

This is an annual convention that moves around the country which is organised by a different group of people each year. For 2017 the event is called Innominate and is being held in Birmingham at the Hilton hotel from 14-17th April.

I’ll be attending the event, hopefully on a panel or two, and will be hanging around all weekend so will be signing books and probably chatting in the bar! If you’ve never been to an event like this before then I would recommend it. You could just come along for the day, sit in some talks and panels, meet some authors and just relax with a crowd of people with common interests.

October news round up

The Age of Darkness

My first series with Orbit, the Age of Darkness, is now at an end. This first trilogy was many years in the making but for you lucky readers, it only took 13 months to come out (September 2015, April 2016 and now October 2016). So all three books are now out there. If you were waiting until the trilogy was done before dipping your toe in, then get stuck in now.

Interviews

I’ve recently done a couple of events to promote Chaosmage and the trilogy as a whole, including some blog posts and interviews. The first of which is with DJ over on his book blog where I talk about my influences for the series, give some general info on characters, the overall themes and the world. It’s a good introduction to the series and there are no spoilers.

I was also recently a guest on the I Should Be Writing podcast, with Mur Lafferty, so keep an eye out for my episode which will be coming up in a couple of weeks time, either on the website or via iTunes.

I also wrote an article for Sci Fi Bulletin which you can read here about Fantasy being an Umbrella, which makes complete sense, right?

The Age of Dread

The big news I’ve been sitting on for months is now out of the bag. I’m delighted to announce that Orbit books have signed me up for a new fantasy trilogy, called the Age of Dread. This series follows on from the previous one, and it is set in the same world a few years after the events of Chaosmage. I can’t say too much about the book, but I can reveal that this trilogy will be more closely tied together than the Age of Darkness.

So we will follow the same characters through the series and it is one massive sprawling story. I’m currently hard at work, in the home stretch in fact, of the first draft of book 1 and am currently a little ahead of my deadline, for the moment! The first book, currently called Seeds of Destruction (although this might change), will be published in October 2017, which seems like a long way off, but from this side of the table, it’s not. With that in mind, I have lots of writing to do before then, so I better get on with it.

Guardian Masterclass and Fantasycon

Yesterday  I was at the sold out Guardian Masterclass on ‘How to find a literary agent’ in London, being run by my agent Juliet Mushens. For a portion of the afternoon she was ably assisted by two of her clients, Elodie Harper and myself.

It was a really great event where the engaged audience listened intently as we answered some questions about our individual journeys to publication, and also learned about some of our mistakes that they will hopefully avoid.

guardian masterclass

Juliet Mushens, Elodie Harper, Stephen Aryan

There was just enough time for a short Q and A session, before the break. The time flew by and I had a great time and even managed to coax a few laughs from the audience.

Looking back I wish there had been something similar when I had first started searching for an agent, but such a thing didn’t exist. The internet was in its infancy and all agents only accepted paper submissions. If you’re getting ready to submit or will be in a few months time, I would definitely keep an eye out for similar events like this in the future.

This weekend coming I’m off to Fantasycon in Scarborough. On Saturday I’m on a panel at 2pm called ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ asking – Should we be killing off our main characters?

In the evening, from 7pm-9pm, I will be attending the David Gemmell Awards for Fantasy, where Battlemage has been shortlisted for the Morningstar Award, the category for best debut. I have a one in six chance of winning, so fingers crossed everyone.

Apart from that I’ll be wandering around the event and you’ll most likely find me either at the bar in the evening, talking and drinking, or pottering around the dealer room and sitting in the audience at some other panels as there are some wonderful guests of honour. Hopefully I will see some of your there.

June Events

This June I’m off to a few events.

On Tuesday 7th June, Joe Hill will be appearing at Waterstones in Birmingham, and I’m attending as a fan to hear about his latest book, The Fireman. It sounds really, really, really good, so I am looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of that. Plus he is always a very engaging speaker at events and I like hearing about his unique perspective on storytelling, given his family.

On Wednesday 8th June, from 6pm to 8pm, I’m going back to Waterstones in Birmingham and this time I’m one of three local authors who will be taking part in a Publishing Workshop. All three of us, Liz Tipping, Gemma Todd and I, will be speaking about how we found a literary agent. We all have very different origin stories and our books are also very different, so it should prove to be  an interesting and useful event. If you are trying to get published and want to find an agent, come along with your questions.

If this event goes well and is well attended, we are looking to do more of these events in the future.

Then on Saturday 11th June I will be at a local author event and coffee morning in Lichfield at the Library. I’ll be there to talk about my books, writing and just generally get people interested in reading and writing. Libraries are vitally important and I spent a lot of time in my home town library growing up. So if you are in the area, come and have a cup of coffee and a chat.

 

David Gemmell Awards

David Gemmell Legend Awards - SnagaDavid Gemmell was and is a huge influence on my work. More so than Tolkien, which many people cite as being their main foundation, Gemmell showed me many worlds where the main characters were not always perfect people. Long before anyone coined the phrase Grimdark, he was writing about grey people in difficult situations.

The longlist for the three awards are now available and you can vote, online, for free, by visiting this page. You can only vote once on the long list.

Battlemage is on the list for the Morningstar award. This is the award for the best début fantasy novel.

The cover for Battlemage has also been nominated for the Ravenheart award, with artist Steve Stone.

I’m delighted to have been included on this list and the winners will be announced in September at the Fantasycon event in Scarborough. As it happens I am attending this event, so I will be cheering on the others and either celebrating or crying into my beer, depending on the outcome!

So, get voting. The longlist closes on 24th June. The shortlist for all categories then opens on July 8th for the final vote.

 

Bloodmage tour roundup

I’m back from my UK tour for Bloodmage, the second book in the Age of Darkness trilogy.

The first stop was Sheffield, which was a lot of fun. Samuel, and the other staff at Waterstones Orchard Square, had arranged some coffee and nibbles and after rushing to get there, I was ready for a drink and some cake. There were a few writers in the audience so a lot of the questions were around how to get published, finding an agent, working with a publisher and so on. There was still plenty of time for a reading and to sign a few books.

After Sheffield I went to Middlesbrough where Niel Bushnell and I had a great discussion about our different routes to getting published. It was also a good opportunity for us to catch up as I’d not seen Niel since last year at another event. We shared some more tips about writing and getting published and explored some of the different options that are available today, compared with only a few years ago.

The last stop was my home town of Whitley Bay, where I grew up. I’d not been back in a few years and before the event I had some time to explore what had changed and was what the same since my last visit. Many thanks to everyone at the library for their support and for everyone who braved the awful weather to come and see me.

My presentation about my writing and my journey to getting published was very popular and I received a lot of positive comments. Even more popular was the fantastic Battlemage cake that my friend, Katie, had made for me. It was also chocolate cake, which is my favourite, and at one point I almost didn’t get a piece as it was rapidly disappearing. Overall it was a tiring but enjoyable book tour.

It’s only six months until Chaosmage is here and I start all over again. So let me know if you want me to come and visit a bookshop near you next time.

Battlemage Cake - Whitley Bay 2016

Bloodmage Launch – Birmingham

Last week was the official launch of Bloodmage, book 2 in the Age of Darkness trilogy, at Waterstones in Birmingham. The shop is amazing. It’s six floors full of books, which sounds like heaven to me! I could spend days in there if they’d let me, and they serve food and drink in the cafes, so I wouldn’t starve.

Bloodmage - Age of Darkness - Birmingham2

 

 

 

 

 

The launch was a great success and I met some lovely people who had read Battlemage and were keen for some answers about what was going to happen next in the trilogy and beyond that.

Bloodmage - Age of Darkness - Birmingham

 

 

 

 

 

After the Q and A I did a new reading from Bloodmage that seemed to well and got a few chuckles. I also signed a few books too and had an encounter with an odd man that kept offering people some of his slice of cake…for some reason. I think we were all supposed to be helping him with his diet.

Bloodmage - Age of Darkness - Birmingham3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to everyone for coming along on a very rainy and stormy night. Special thanks to the booksellers who were very lovely and took very good care of me. In two weeks I’m off on tour, and I’ll be heading to Sheffield, Middlesbrough and then back to my home town of Whitley Bay.

Post-birthday blog

Friday was another birthday for me, not a landmark one, so following that and a few other developments, I thought I’d do a bit of a round-up blog for the end of this month.

Today I just received copies of the French version of Battlemage – Mage de Guerre – from my French publisher – Bragelonne. So if you want more info or to get your hands on copy in French, their website is the best place to start. It looks amazing and I love the cover.

Next month Bloodmage comes out and I’ve got a few signing events around the UK. I’m really excited about this book in a different way to Battlemage. It was my début book and this is now a chance to show readers that it wasn’t a fluke, and I can do it again. It’s a very different kind of book, so there’s some anxiety about how it will be received if people are expecting more of the same. In some ways I think it is a more accomplished book, but that’s just me.

I’m also doing a Goodreads giveaway, and this is open to people all around the world. I will sign and post 5 copies to 5 winners. There’s still a week left, so you just need to be a member of Goodreads to enter which is free to join.

I’ve just sent back the proof amends for book 3, title currently not announced, which means that is the last time I will see it before it comes out in print later this year. So, technically in terms of writing for the Age of Darkness trilogy…I’m done.

So that brings me on to the next thing. I’ve made a start, and I have a stack of ideas and have written several thousand words in notes. Character arcs, exciting tentpole moments from the story, ideas for where I see the story going at a top level. Then I start breaking it down into segments and themes and chunks. I’m writing it all down and then I start to sift it into some kind of semblance of order. I’ve not booked to attend any conventions this year until Fantasycon at the end of September in Scarborough. So that gives me a few months clear to knuckle down and focus on this next set of books and getting some words done on the first draft of book 1.

Other things are ticking along in the background, comic book projects are still going and also I’m still doing two podcasts a month with Bags of Action and Comic Book Outsiders. There will be an announcement next month about the podcasts, and an adjustment, but generally not a lot will change. I still love doing it which is why I’m still doing them 8 years on from when we started.

Spring is here so that means it’s time for me to start planting stuff out again in the garden, fruit and veg. I never thought I’d become a bit like Tom and Barbara from The Good Life, but hey, it’s happened. I enjoy it, it keeps me active, and home grown stuff tastes yummy.  That also reminds me, now that I’ve moved to a new area of the country, there are a lot of different local breweries to try. So I might be posting a few more real ale reviews on the website soon.

My reading has been pretty slow lately as it’s been busy with book 3 work, but I’m gradually getting to the end of Assassin’s Quest. I am enjoying it, but the book is very dense and about 800 pages, so it is taking me a while. My to read pile is mocking me, so I’m going to try make more time to read as it becomes a bit quieter for the next few months. Right, time to get back to pondering the next big thing.