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

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!

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.


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.



December update

Somehow it is December already. It seems like only yesterday (actually February) when I was in Paris, picking up an award for Battlemage in French. The year has gone by really quick.

So, December 1st and I’m now working on the first draft of book 3 in the Age of Dread trilogy. The copy edits for book 2, working title and probably real title Magefall, are done and were sent off about a week ago. I’m now trying to keep all 3 books in my head, focus on what happened in book 2 and make sure book 3 works well and lands properly, plus I need to make sure I tie up as many loose ends as I can, because this is the end.

I’m writing something different next, not set in the same world. That doesn’t mean I won’t come back to this world, and I have a couple of seeds of ideas in the back of my head already, but after 6 books and 1 novella, and about 10 years, I need a break. Battlemage came out in 2015, which is only 2 years ago, but I was working on it for 2 years before that with my agent and then my editor, and before that I was working on writing it for a few years. So a change is good. It will keep me fresh, stretch me to do something different and new.

Publishing schedule
At the moment, the novella, Of Gods and Men, (available digitally and in audio) will be coming out in February 2018, then Magefall in October 2018 then Mage3 in October 2019. So in theory, the new book I am going to start writing next year in the summer will be coming out in 2020. I’m Doc Brown without trying somehow, with half of my mind here in the present and half somewhere else in the future. I constantly find myself travelling back and forth in time. When someone asks me about a book it can take me a couple of seconds to work out which book they’re talking about and this is the reason why.

As is my tradition, and as is right at this special time of the year, I will be writing one or more posts on my favourite sports, World’s Strongest Man. The qualifiers, the heats, and then the glorious final. There won’t be any more writing updates this year, so happy holidays everyone and I’ll see you in 2018.


New Novella – Of Gods and Men

Of Gods and Men novellaI’m delighted to announce that a new novella I’ve written has been revealed today, along with the awesome cover! Of Gods and Men, a digital and audio novella is set to be released in February 2018 by Orbit books. So there’s only a few short months to wait!

This story can be read at any time and it will still make sense. If you’ve read the first trilogy, the Age of Darkness (Battlemage, Bloodmage, Chaosmage), or even just the first book, then it provides some info and background that feeds into the second trilogy without spoiling what’s to come.

If you’re completely up to date and have read Mageborn and are eagerly waiting for the next book, this gives you something new  to read in the meantime that fills in some background on a much-loved character…or two. There are also a few easter eggs in there as normal for loyal readers.

And, if you’ve somehow stumbled across this post and have not read any of my books before, but want something lighter and shorter to try before wading into a trilogy, then you can read it and the story is self contained enough that it will also make sense.

The title also gives you a big clue in some ways about its structure and one of the non-fantasy influences for the story, but it doesn’t reveal any spoilers.

The Slog

I’ve not done a post about writing in a while and given where I am at the moment it seemed appropriate. This post is going to be all about my experiences with writing novels but this also applies to writers of other long-form projects. This is for all writers, whether you are published are not.

I wanted to talk about the slog. That is the effort to keep going and press on no matter how tired or fed up you are with the book. No matter how much you hate it and think it’s crap. No matter what else is going on in your life with your family, your friends and your day job. No matter what time of year it is as sometimes you want to be outside doing something else, anything else, rather than staring at a screen and writing the damn novel.

I plan my novels. I know the start, middle, end, and milestones. I don’t have every single detail plotted out, otherwise it would be boring to write, as there’s no discovery for me, and therefore boring to read. But with that structure in place the story can’t go off the rails sending me into a dead-end where I have to backtrack, delete a huge chunk of text and start down another track. Been there, done that, never again. Everyone has their own style of story plotting, architect, organic or somewhere in-between. However you approach it you still have to finish the book. And that’s a slog.

Someone recently asked me if the next two novels in my new trilogy, the Age of Dread, would be longer or shorter than the first book, Mageborn. Honestly, I have no idea. I know what the story is but not the final word count. There’s always some flex. Some chapters end up shorter than expected and others longer. Sometimes after scanning the first draft I realise it’s missing a beat here or there on certain characters so I might add in an extra chapter or two. So it really can vary up to a point. Even with all of that planning, and preparation, the toughest part of writing a novel is still getting to the end.

It takes me months and months to write a novel. Anywhere from eight months (my quickest ever) to three years. That’s a lot of time. A lot of evenings and weekends.  A lot of hours. And a lot of time. And it’s tough. It’s tough to focus on the end goal for all of that time. To think, great, when this is over I will have a finished book. So like a marathon runner, I’m always looking ahead to the finish line. Sometimes that’s all that keeps me going and it can be really hard to keep writing. (I’m not even going to touch on what happens after the first draft, that’s for another day).

The grind of it can be mentally and physically exhausting. I’m not going to compare writing novels to the difficulty of other jobs, like being a doctor, nurse, police officer or school teacher. They are all very difficult jobs. This isn’t a competition or a game. But that doesn’t mean writing novels isn’t difficult in its own way. I write because I love it and it’s my job and it also helps pay the bills. I was writing for years before I was published, many years in fact, producing novel after novel. I just kept going because I had to and I needed to write. Would I still be writing novels if I wasn’t published? Absolutely. It’s who I am. It’s what I do. If you think this post is me moaning about writing, or a pity party, you need to go back and reread it from the start. This is about the slog. This is about stamina.

Writing novels requires effort. It means digging down inside yourself and bringing forth an idea into the real world. Ideas are easy. Everyone has ideas. Hundreds every day. Turning that idea, for whatever it is, into a real finished thing is the hard part. How many people say they are going to write a novel but never actually do it? Tens of thousands is my guess, if not many more.

Writing means exposing a part of your mind to strangers who will then hold it up to the light and scrutinise it. Writing means readers will go through what you’ve been working on for months or years in a matter of hours or days. Writing a review can take 30 seconds and if you do read reviews, which I don’t think is healthy, they can be quite unpleasant, especially after everything you’ve poured into the project. No one sets out to write a bad novel.

I’m often asked if at this point, working on book 6, it gets any easier, and the answer is no. It should never be easy because I’m still working hard every time on every book. If it was easy then it means I’m phoning it in and not really putting in much effort. I wrangle with dialogue and rewrite it over and over. I worry about characters arcs and their development. I worry that I’m just stuffing in too much exposition or  world building that will bore people and slow down the pacing. I work hard to create satisfying stories with complex characters that feel real and relatable. I worry because I care about the book, every single time.

Getting to the end of that book and finishing it requires a lot of internal fortitude. A lot of stamina and it is a real slog of will. So. If you’ve made it this far, and you’re working on a novel, your first or fifteenth, it doesn’t really matter, know that you’re not alone and that there are many writers out there that are going through exactly the same thing as you.

Mageborn launch events

Just a quick round up to say I had a fantastic couple of launch events in Birmingham and London last week to celebrate the publication of Mageborn.

In Birmingham, RJ Barker and I were quizzed by Tom Bissell about magic, writing, our influences, and all the while we and the audience enjoyed a nice glass of MAGE real ale brewed by Fownes Brewery with help from myself. Below are some photos from the evening’s entertainment, which also included a brief game of Bluff my Call (not related in any way to a TV show that had a similar name).

In London I sat down with Ed Cox to have a more intimate one on one chat covering a wide range of topics ranging from our origins, the place where we write every, our parents, influences, world building, magic and exciting books we were looking forward to seeing in the coming months. It was a lot of fun to dig into each other’s origin story and to chat to some new people afterwards.

Later this month I’ll be taking another trip down south for the MCM Comic Con at the Excel Centre (October 27-29th) so if you’re in the area come along, say hello and get a book signed.

New Podcast Interview

I recently recorded an interview with Hank Garner, the host of the Author Stories podcast. We had a great time talking about my writing process, how I got started in writing, when I first realised I liked telling stories, as well as where Battlemage came from.

I had a great time chatting with Hank as he has a really relaxed and easy going manner and the time flew by. Check out this episode, but also the other episodes where he talks to dozens of fantasy and science fiction authors. The podcast is also available on iTunes.

Listen to the episode

Author stories podcast