Category Archives: Events

February worklog

I thought I would do a quick post about what I’m up to at the moment on various things.

So, book 2, Bloodmage, is completely done and dusted. My publisher, Orbit books, has just sent me the latest version of the cover and I think it looks really good. So that is all set to come out in April.

In about a week’s time the copy edits on book 3, currently untitled, will be coming back to me. I’ve then got a couple of weeks to turn it around and send it back to the publisher. After that, a few weeks later, I get a physical proof.

So at the moment I have a window of time where I’m not writing. I won’t lie. It’s weird. After doing it all the time, almost every day, to suddenly not be working on a novel seems odd.

Not writing at all doesn’t sit right with me, so I’m writing down notes for the next big thing. In theory it will be a new trilogy, but it is very early days, so that might change. In the meantime I’m also working on what is currently a novelette, but depending on how long it runs, it might turn into a novella. It’s set in the same world as the Age of Darkness, and it shines the light on a couple of characters. It is an interesting side adventure they went on together. Chronologically it’s set before Battlemage, so it doesn’t spoil anything, but if you’ve read book 1 already then there are pay-offs.

I’ve just finished doing an Author roundtable Q and A over at SFF World which you can read here. The questions were mostly about process  and more general as there were three of us.

The comic book projects roll on. Flux, co-written with Pete Rogers is going well. We’ve just finished the Issue 3 script (out of 4) and we’re fairly happy with it. Artwork for issue 2 is still coming in and we’re going to start working on Issue 4, and extra content soon. I’ve also got about nine ideas written down for some other mini series and am having trouble deciding what to pursue next. I think a bit of a head to head Skype chat with Pete is what is required.

The podcasting is still going well. I have monthly chats with Scott for CBO and the same with Pete for Bags of Action, where we talk action movies. Later this month I’ll be doing face to face podcasts with both of them, which will be weird, as you learn certain rhythms when doing it over the internet. Seeing the person talk is just odd. Pete and I recently saw Creed, so we’ll be talking about that very soon for Bags. We’re both big fans of the Rocky franchise so it will be an interesting discussion.

Soon I’ll be announcing some events in the UK for the launch of Bloodmage in April, so keep checking back. The first of these as gone up already on the Events page, and I will add more when confirmed. I suspect I’ll be attending a couple of conventions this year but I’m not sure where or when yet. Pie in the sky idea for 2017 is to attend NYCC in October, but right now it’s just a cool idea. Let’s see if it actually happens.

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First Bloodmage event of 2016

libraryIt’s now only a few months until Bloodmage comes out in April and I’ve already got one event booked. There will be a couple of signing events to mark the publication of Bloodmage and as soon as they’re sorted I’ll post the dates and details on the events page. They will likely be around the publication date of 14 April.

In the meantime, the first event booked in the diary is on Thursday 28th April I will be going back to my home town, Whitley Bay, to speak at the local library.

I haven’t been back to my home town for a few years. I moved away over 15 years ago to work in another part of the country, as did many of my friends from school. I’ve been back every now and then, noting the changes and improvements to the town, including the library itself. The old library was a pretty battered concrete building on the sea front and it was kind of an extended portakabin, but despite its unglamorous exterior, I spent a lot of hours in there. The staff were always excellent and it helped foster my love of reading and stories. I saw all of these amazing books and aspired to write one myself. Fast forward about twenty years and here we are.

library2The new library is right in the town centre and it is very modern with lots of glass and shiny metal and I am thrilled to be returning home to talk about my journey to publication.

No doubt there will be some familiar faces in the crowd and probably some people I can’t name as it’s been many years since we last met!

I’m really looking forward to going back to Whitley Bay and seeing my book on the shelf in my home town library. If anything I hope that my visit sparks the imagination of some local children who also want to write and perhaps in another twenty years they’ll come back to see their book on the shelf.

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Post-Fantasycon and Pre-SLEDGE LIT

Fantasycon is done and is now in the rear view mirror. Bye bye Nottingham and next year it is going to be in Scarborough by the sea. The event was super tiring but fun, and I had a great time hanging out with friends I only get to see maybe once or twice a year. I met a whole bunch of new people, including the great Brad Beaulieu, who was over here in the UK visiting from America. Prior to Fantasycon I’d seen photos of him going up and down the country at various signings with Brandon Sanderson, but we met across a table with only a deck of Magic: The Gathering cards between us. Den Patrick brought several decks with him and throughout the weekend we battled, sometimes head to head and once with Brad in a 3 way match. We tried to have a rematch on Sunday but didn’t manage to fit it in. There are too many people to name so I’ll just say you all know who you are and it was great to see you.

SLEDGE-LIT

So, in about four weeks time, on Saturday 21st November in Derby, I will be attending my next convention, a one day event called SLEDGE-LIT. Tickets are still available and there’s more information on the Facebook group. I’m going to be doing a reading and will be on panels, and there are also some epic guests of honour as well including Alison Moore, Adam Roberts, Robert Shearman and Charles Stross.

I’ve been to similar events at the Derby Quad before including EDGE-LIT which is normally run in July. So this is a great partner event to that giving fans an extra helping of some great voices in fantasy and science fiction.

If I didn’t see you at Fantasycon then perhaps I will see  some of you at SLEDGE-LIT or next year at another event. For now I’m going to try and catch up on my sleep…and all of the new TV that’s just come back for new seasons.

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Fantasycon 2015 – Nottingham

Below is a list of things that I’ll be doing  in a couple of weeks at Fantasycon 2015. This year the event is being held at the East Midlands Conference Centre and Orchard Hotel in Nottingham. I’ve never been to the venue before, but it looks very new and shiny, with lots of natural light and glass, so hopefully it will be a lovely space.

So, my plans for the weekend, other than catching up with friends and having one or two beers, will be the following:-

Friday

5pm – There is a reading slot with me for about 20 minutes. I’m probably not going to read for all of that, so I might answer any questions, or failing that, just talk at whoever is there.

Saturday

In the Conference Theatre at 2pm – War: What Is It Good For? Martial Conflict in SFF

Moderator: Natasha Bardon

Panellists: Stephen Aryan, Bradley Beaulieu, Sophia McDougall, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Gav Thorpe.

Sunday

At 12pm, before the banquet, there will be a mass signing, and I’m planning on being there. I’m not sure if they will have copies of Battlemage for sale, hopefully they will, so I guess we’ll I’ll turn  up and find out!

Even if you don’t fancy coming along to see me there are some fantastic guests of honour and all sorts of panels, book launches and readings. Hopefully I will see some of you there wielding a copy of Battlemage with intent!

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Battlemage launch

Last week was the northern launch of Battlemage at Waterstones in Leeds, my local bookshop. It was a weird and wonderful night. Weird because I’ve gone to so many similar events in the past, sat in the audience, and listened to an author talk about their book and their world. So when I arrived and saw all of those chairs in front of those Waterstones banners a part of me was waiting for the writer to arrive.

Battlemage_Leeds_3 22 Sept 2015

 

It turned out to be a lovely event, and it was great to have so many local friends come out to see me, hear me talk about the long journey to getting the book published, and of course getting a copy signed.

This week marked the London launch of my book, which began with a signing event at Forbidden Planet where some of my family attended, making it very special. Danie and the staff there were kind and looked after me very well. I signed some stock, shook some hands, took some photos and had a great time. So if you want a signed copy then take a look here.

Battlemage_Forbidden_Planet_29 Sept 2015 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After that I went across to the Grange Holborn Hotel to the Sky Bar for the September Super Relaxed Fantasy Club, hosted by the most excellent Den Patrick and Jen Williams.

I gave a short reading from Battlemage, and then there was a Q and A session which seemed to go really well. I was pretty nervous to start with, but once it got going my nerves disappeared and I had to just try not to speak too quickly. It really helped having my family there, and so many friends and familiar faces in the crowd.

The venue was really lovely as well with amazing views across London, and later in the evening when it was dark I saw the London Eye and other landmarks all lit up. I’m probably in London two or three times a year maximum so it all added up to make it a bit special.

So, Battlemage is out there now in the wild. In America,  all across the UK (as people have been sending me photos of copies in their local bookshop) and  by now all around the world.

In the next few of months I’ll be at a couple of events, starting later this month at Fantasycon in Nottingham, and then in November I’m a guest at the SLEDGE-LIT one day event in Derby. After that it will be Christmas before I realise, then in the new year, the cycle begins again as we build up to the launch of Bloodmage, book 2 in the Age of Darkness trilogy! But for now….I’m going to have a bit of a rest.

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My Experience at Nine Worlds 2015

This was the second year I’ve attended the Nine Worlds Geekfest in London. The event is only in its third year so it is still a relatively new event compared to some. Even so I think it is leaps and bounds ahead of others in terms of it being the most inclusive and open event I’ve attended. The organisers work incredibly hard to make sure everyone feels safe and they have very clear policies around acceptable behaviour.

There were a few issues at the event, but I want to make it clear that it was not the fault of the organisers but the venue itself. Others have detailed it elsewhere but briefly, the staff and service at the hotel was a very mixed bag. I encountered excellent service and very helpful and friendly staff on reception and at breakfast, and yet terrible service in the restaurant (twice) and at the bar. As a result of many similar complaints by attendees next year’s event will not be held at the same hotel.

Once again this year I was involved in organising the podcasting track. Without blowing my own trumpet I think it all went very well. Big thanks to my fellow track organisers, Scott Grandison and Barry Nugent, of Geek Syndicate fame. All of the panels were very well attended and I think it is worth highlighting our keynote talk by Allen Stroud which was fascinating and insightful. It was on “The State of the Playground: the modern experience of fantasy and science fiction across media” and at the end of his talk he sat down, turned his chair around and it moved into discussion between everyone in the room. The 2nd Annual Podcaster Games was so much fun and Alasdair Stuart, Anne Louise and Marguerite Kenner went home with the coveted Golden Microphone trophies. If you ask them really nicely they might show you, but you can’t touch it!

The rest of my convention seemed to go by in a blur. I spent a lot of time hanging out with fellow members of TeamMushens, as well as attending panels on the book track and popping along to the SRFC brunch on Sunday morning which was sponsored by Orbit books who supplied all the goodies. This included some Battlemage cupcakes which tasted delicious! I also did a reading at the New Voices panel on Saturday night alongside all around good egg, Pete Newman. On Saturday we even managed to squeeze in a Warhammer 40K roleplay for a few hours which was so much fun.

There were a lot of late nights. Conversations about books, films and geek TV shows. There was also plenty of beer.  Sadly the event inevitably came to a close and I left feeling exhausted, bereft after being around so many cool and interesting people, but happier for having spent time with them. Roll on the next convention which for me will be Fantasycon in October and then SLEDGE LIT in November. But before then I’ll be doing a northern and southern book signing and launch for Battlemage. Details are coming very soon.

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Podcasting Legends

I’m giving that title to someone else, not me, namely Scott Grandison, my partner in crime on our podcast of eight years last week, Comic Book Outsiders.

When we started podcasting we had a sign at comic book conventions on our table that said – Ask us about podcasting! Several times an hour, people came up to the table and asked, so what’s a podcast? Eight years on, there are thousands of podcasts being produced all around the world, they’re on iTunes to download, celebrities even produce their own podcasts.

A year before we started, there were a few other podcasts I listened to, one being Geek Syndicate, from two more worthy of the  title Podcasting Legends, namely Barry Nugent and David Monteith. They’re one of the reasons we started in the first place and they’re also still going to this day, nine years on. So hats off to you both, gentleman.

To celebrate CBO’s 175th episode last week, we asked Barry to join us for a completely unplanned hour of geekery. We talked about anything and everything, we had a few mini rants, got some stuff off our chest and we celebrated some awesome stuff. It reminded me again why I like podcasting and how brilliant it is as a medium for connecting people with common interests. It’s also takes me a lot less time to explain why I like something than write the equivalent. Long-term discussion and analysis on the internet is not that common, and it would take a long time to read, but I can have the same discussion with six people in 30 minutes on a podcast. Good luck transcribing that!

Other stuff, I’m busy with all sorts of book stuff, so I’ve taken a step back from my other podcast, Bags of Action. So in July Pete Rogers, my other co-host, discussed Kury Fury and Predator: Dark Ages with Gavin Jones from the Sidekickcast. Next month Pete and Scott will crossover in some kind of weird summer blockbuster event with Arnie and Stallone in the same film, and discuss Aliens, so watch out for that.

Nine Worlds Geekfest

Next week, Scott, Barry and I are once again co-running the Podcasting track for Nine Worlds. We’ve got all sorts of interesting and thought provoking panels, educational ones, a guest speaker and the legendary, Annual Podcaster Games, which is the ultimate geek quiz. The winning team each gets to take home the coveted golden microphone trophy, so do not miss that if you’re going, it’s at 11.45am on Saturday.

I’m also appearing on a couple of panels at Nine Worlds on the Book Track, so keep an eye out and if you’re going I’ll see you there on a panel, at my reading, or most likely, in the bar.

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Updated Appearances

I’m hoping to have some news in the next couple of weeks about events closer to the time of publication for Battlemage. However, I’m going to be appearing in a few places in the meantime in the run up to the end of September and publication date. So I’ve added details as I have them below and dates on the Events page.

First off I’ll be at the Goldboro Books Fantasy in the Court Event on Thursday 6th August. This event is run in association with Hodderscape. More information is available about the event here.

I’m also attending the Nine Worlds Geekfest on Friday 7th August to Sunday 9th August in Heathrow. As well as co-running the Podcasting track, I’ll be appearing in a couple of places.

I’m on the New Voices Panel on the All the Books track on Saturday night from 10.15pm to 11.30pm. Last year this involved a short reading so I’d expect more of the same.

I’m also on the Writing the Other panel on Sunday 9th from 3.15pm to 4.30pm. More information about the event is available here, and you can access the full programme here and start planning your panels. With so many tracking running in parallel you really need to plan what you want to see in advance.

 

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Nine Worlds 2015

So, we’re still months away from the Nine Worlds Geekfest convention for 2015, which is taking place on 7-9th August in London but I’m writing about it on here for a couple of reasons.

I attended the event last year, and it was a remarkable event which was eye-opening and the most inclusive event I’ve ever attended with a very relaxed atmosphere. It was also kind of terrifying because in addition to co-running the podcast track with Barry Nugent of Geek Syndicate fame, I also read a section from my book Battlemage for the first time in public. The panel was called New Voices and new authors stood up in front of a room full of strangers and read for about 5 minutes. I was nervous, sweaty, gassy and generally not comfortable. I’m very much someone who normally works behind the scenes, pulling strings as it were. I’m not someone who seeks the limelight and I don’t like to be the centre of attention but this time there was nowhere to hide. But I think it went fairly well, I stumbled a couple of times but people seemed to enjoy it so that was good.

All of those nerves will have to be brushed aside or buried soon as September marks the launch of Battlemage, the first book in my trilogy, so I suspect I will be doing more public readings in the near future. I might even be doing something for it at Nine Worlds but it is too early to say just yet.

Nine Worlds also marks the return of the podcasting track. This year I’m taking a bit of a step back as I’m busy writing book 3, editing book 2, and promoting and launching book 1, so my co-host on the Comic Book Outsiders podcast, Dr Scott, is helping Barry and I run the podcast track this year.

So, we have worked out what panels we are doing for the track, now we just need more people to sign up for it. So, if you are a podcaster and you want to get involved, if you want to talk about what you do, how to do it, why you do it, when and where, and all aspects in between, then sign up on the Nine Worlds website here. As I said, still months away but we need to get it sorted ahead of time.

Even if you’re not into podcasting I would recommend the event as it has more than one track for all walks of geekdom and you will find lots of things to keep you busy for a few days. In the meantime it’s back to the writing cave.

 

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What happened at Eastercon 2015

This was my first convention of the year and it was a relatively quiet one. Despite that, and coming home before the convention ended, I was still shattered by the end of it. A painful journey down on Friday meant I arrived late but just in time to see the last half of the opening ceremony. As bad as my journey was, the guests of honour coming from America had a much worse trip. This involved having their plane return to the airport as they didn’t have enough fuel to fly around a storm. As a result they arrived late and had been awake for a very long time. At the end of his first panel, when Jim Butcher was asked for any closing thoughts it consisted of ‘I’m very tired’ which was fair enough after being awake for 30 hours!

The rest of the weekend seemed to pass in a blur. I spent it hanging out and catching up with old friends, such as my stalwart convention buddy Adrian Faulkner, plus I had a chance to catch up with Mr Gav Reads, as I like to call him. The always lovely CE Murphy was over from Ireland and it was so great to see her and put the world to rights. I met a couple of likely lads in the form of Rob Adams and Cameron Johnston and we shared writing stories over a pint of real ale from the bar on Friday night. I briefly ran into the award winning Ruth Booth, who picked up a BSFA award for a short story, so many congratulations to her.

Even though we’d met briefly in the past I was properly introduced to Lucy Hounsom by Jen Williams and we had dinner together in the pub with Adrian, my agent-buddy Pete Newman and his good lady wife Milady Emma Newman. They were both nominated for a Hugo don’t you know for their podcast. I’m not going to get into the Hugo controversy as others have done that elsewhere and with more clarity. See George RR Martin’s blog post about it for more info. I also met the friendly Ed Cox and we shared a manly hug, and Catie introduced me to Charlie Stross at one point too. I also ran into the always kind and generous Gillian Redfearn several times over the weekend, in a corridor, in the pub, during a panel, although at one point I’m sure I saw that she’s grown some horns (see her twitter feed for photos).

So a lot of names and faces, old and new to me over the course of the weekend. As ever, this more than the panels and even the guests of honour, are what the conventions are all about for me. Connecting with like-minded, creative and clever people and being able to completely relax and mention something tangentially connected and not receive a blank stare. At one point someone mentioned Star Wars and Spaced, and that set me off quoting Simon Pegg’s character as he berates a small child in a comic shop for wanting some Jar Jar Binks merchandise.

Saturday consisted of more panels and also hearing Jim Butcher speak on a few panels during his first convention in the UK. It was great to meet him in person and get a book signed. As well as being over here for Eastercon, he is also going on a mini signing tour of the UK this week. Saturday night was a fairly late one where myself, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Peter Newman and David Tallerman put the Marvel film universe to rights. I think we got it all sorted out in the end but don’t ask me what we ultimately decided.

Amazingly I only managed to buy two books at the event, but I did receive one in my bag, The Seventh Miss Hatfield by Anna Caltabiano who I met last year on a panel at Nine Worlds Geekfest. I’m also feeling briefly smug as just after Eastercon they announced the Clarke Award Finalists and I’ve already read two of them and picked up another, Station Eleven, at the weekend. I’ll attempt to read the others but I won’t make a promise as my to read pile is already hideous.

I left just after breakfast on Sunday so I missed Adrian’s talk on storm chasing, but I’ve heard very good things about it. Check out photos from it on his blog. So now there’s a big break for me between events and the next one will be Nine Worlds Geekfest in August. I’m helping out with the Podcasting track again, but don’t expect to be on any panels. In theory, this leaves me with several uninterrupted months where there’s nothing going on and I’m going to focus on chipping away at book 3. That’s the plan anyway so we’ll see how it goes. As ever I came away from the convention tired but also happy and re-energised. Being around those kind of creative people buoys me up and makes me keen to get back to the keyboard and turn out another chapter. So that’s what I’m going to do, starting….now.

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