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.

 

Good things in 2016

Given that for a lot of people 2016 has been a pretty tough and demoralising year, I thought I’d just post some of the good stuff that happened to me.

Bloodmage is Published
Way back in April, which feels like a decade ago right now, Bloodmage was published. In some ways it’s a more accomplished novel than my debut, because the story is more complex, more personal, smaller in scale and yet it builds on the previous book. I’ll always love Battlemage, because it was my debut and because it was the book that got me an awesome author and  great publisher. Bloodmage couldn’t exist without Battlemage either, because I could go places in the second book that I would have struggled to reach if I’d done it first. It’s also so different to the first, as was always the plan, as it’s more of a crime thriller story, set in a fantasy world. I never wanted to do a predictable three part trilogy as my debut series and I believe I accomplished something a bit different.

Chaosmage is Published
By contract October feels like a couple of weeks ago and this novel wrapped up my first trilogy, the Age of Darkness. I’ve seen it called the Battlemage trilogy in some places, but that’s just what some people called it, for some reason. I’m not sure why. So Chaosmage closed out the trilogy which turned out to be a lot more ambitious than a lot of people were expecting. I went in all different sorts of directions, but all under the guise of epic fantasy. This book started out as a love letter to Matheson’s I Am Legend, although so far no-one has mentioned that when they’ve talked about it despite the clear parallels at the start. This book was a lot of fun to write, and was both challenging (as I had to wrap things up and pull certain threads through from the previous two books) and satisfying, as I got to close the door on the series. It’s not the end though.

New Trilogy – The Age of Dread
I’ve been picked up by Orbit to write another trilogy, the Age of Dread, set in the same world! This second book deal was a wonderful boost as it shows I’m not a one-hit wonder and that I’m not going anywhere for a while. Orbit have been fantastic and  despite book 3 not being out very long, it shows the faith they have in me and my work. I’m very grateful for all of their hard work on my behalf and that of my agent over the last few years. It’s odd to think I’ve only been published for about 14 months as it feels like a lot longer at times.

Awards
I was nominated and then shortlisted for the David Gemmell Morningstar award for debut fantasy novel. This was very important to me and even though I didn’t win (that honour went to my agent-bro, the very deserving Peter Newman for The Vagrant) it was a great night. As I’ve said many times before Gemmell is the biggest influence on my work and it was a very special night for me to be there, with some of his family in attendance, at the ceremony.

The Sheffield Fantasy and Science Fiction Social Club had their inaugural awards and the Age of Darkness was awarded the Mycroft Award for Best Completed Series alongside another agent bro, Jen Williams, for her Copper Cat trilogy that also wrapped up this year.

Charity
There is still time to take part in a charity thing I’m involved with. The deadline is getting close but there is still time. 100 authors have donated 100 signed books. For a small donation of £1, your names into the hat and there are several prizes to win batches of signed books. All info is on the page and the money raised is going to Doctors Without Borders.

2017
Next year will see the debut of the first book in the Age of Dread in October, but in the meantime I’ll be busy with events (January in Birmingham at Waterstones), attending Eastercon in April and no doubt other events after that.

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.

 

That’s a wrap

Quick general update. This month has been flying by. It’s been super busy in the day job, and I’ve been stacked up at night with various things. Probably the most exciting news is that the proof of Battlemage is done! I spotted a few things, had a few more fed back to me from the publisher and I’ve sent back my comments on them. So that’s it. I’m done. That’s a wrap!

There are some tweaks to be made to the cover, but that’s not up to me and I’ve already sent in my comments. So now book 1 is completely finished for me (there’s still the whole printing and binding thing, but it’s probably not a good idea for me to do that!) and the next time I see it, Battlemage the book will be a thing. A physical artefact that I can hold in my hand. The final sum total of years of work by many people. It’s very scary and also the prospect of seeing the book is one of the most exciting things in my life. It is literally a dream come true.

So now I’m trying to get my head back into book 2, then send that off and I will hopefully have a gap of a few months to sink back into book 3 and make some good progress.

Other stuff, episode 169 of the Comic Book Outsiders podcast is out now which I co-host. We talk about some of the latest geek news, and then in terms of comics we revisit The Fuse, Letter 44 and Southern Bastards. Also episode 18 of Bags of Action is out, part 3 of our trilogy to Arnie and we discuss Predator, a classic film of the late eighties.

The newest comic book project I’ve been working on, and actually the one I can say the least about, is proving to be the most exciting and it is racing ahead. It’s proving to be both incredibly challenging and also very rewarding because of it’s unusual nature and the approach. Hopefully I can share some more details about this soon.

So, in the meantime, it’s back to work on the second draft of book 2, enjoying the current mid-season break of TV shows as I have less to distract me. In April it all kicks off with Eastercon, Dyprosium, Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, and a bucket load of new Marvel Lego to go with it. Lots of awesome stuff to look forward to.

January update

So far this year has been super busy and after only two weeks at work, plus all of the writing stuff on an evening, I’m ready for a break!

I’ve updated the Events page for the conventions I will be attending. I’m definitely at Dyprosium and 9 Worlds, Fantasycon is 80% a yes, and I’ll probably be doing a couple of others, but am not sure which ones yet. As the year progresses and more details of the exact release date of Battlemage become available I will post updates here and elsewhere online of what I am doing and where I’ll be for that.

Writing wise, so far I’m editing the proof of book 1, Battlemage. This is my last chance to look over it, my last chance to spot any tiny errors, any little niggly bits and so far I’ve not found very much. Thankfully it’s not just up to me and other people are looking at it as well, which is probably a good thing as I’ve read the book so many times I’m probably just reading what I think is there on the page.

So the proof should be done shortly and will go back to Orbit, then I’m jumping back onto my second draft of book 2, which I can’t name yet, but hopefully can reveal reasonably soon. I’m maybe two thirds of the way through it, and in this edit I realised a lot more what the book was actually about. That insight helped me not only focus the story but also what I wanted from the characters and it helped me clarify or slightly alter their decisions.

Once that goes off….at some point, I’ll then jump back onto book 3, and I have to get a first draft of that done before the end of the year. I knew 2015 was going to be pretty epically busy by comparison to other years, but I’m not sure I’m really prepared for it yet. My posting on here may suffer as the year progresses, who knows.

Other writing stuff. Comic book projects. One has been sent off for submission and we will find out in a few months if it is going to be taken any further. Another is starting to move slightly, which is great news and exhilarating. It’s wonderful to see any artwork, but when it’s based on something you have written it’s a remarkable feeling. The third comic project, an experiment of sorts, is going well so far too. I’m being vague about this one on purpose, as it’s unusual in structure and approach, but so far I’ve been encouraged by the progress made.

That’s kind of it for now. Over the holidays I caught up on a bunch of TV shows that had been stacking up on the box. I read a few comics on my stack and even played a bit of Starcraft 2, which is lots of fun. I’ve seen lots of other lovely games, and even a few MMORPGs I’ve thought about playing, but the guilt of paying and not playing would eat at me, and then if I did try to get my money’s worth I’d feel guilty for not spending more time writing. So it’s easier to just admire them from afar and play games where I only pay once.

For now I’m locked in the writing cave, writing and editing, but I’ll be let out in April for my first convention. Very excited about meeting Jim Butcher at his first UK convention as I’m an enormous Dresden Files fan and will have to do my utmost not to geek out and totally fanboy on him.