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.

Christmas
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 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

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.

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.