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.

London Comic Con Schedule

MCM London Comic Con

The MCM London Comic Con has updated their website and added the Author Corner section. So I can now provide details of the panels I will be taking part in, on Sunday 28th May. There are panels throughout the weekend so follow the link above for information on all of the panels, and my two are detailed below.

There will definitely be a signing after the first panel, I’m not sure about after the second. I hope to see some of you there.

Orbit Presents:  Old Vs New

Orbit has been publishing the best genre fiction since time began.  Okay.  That part we made up, but they have been in the game for a very long time.  Forty years to be exact!  And we figured the perfect way to celebrate that milestone would be to team a bunch of veteran Orbit writers against a bunch of rookie Orbit writers and watch the sparks fly!  Join veteran authors M.R. Carey, Claire North, Stephen Aryan and Jamie Sawyer as they go up against young guns Nicholas Eames, RJ Barker, Jason Arnopp and Adrian Selby in a battle of steely wills and wily wit.  Actually they’ll probably just shout juvenile insults at each other but it should be fun to watch nonetheless.

  • Time: Sunday 28th May, 11:15am – 12:30pm
  • Room: Lower Platinum Suite
  • Author Signing

It’s Clobbering Time – Fighting & Fantasy:

Everyone loves a good fight, especially in fantasy, and the nastier the better.  Join authors Ed McDonald, Jen Williams, RJ Barker, Stephen Aryan, Nicholas Eames and Ed Cox as they talk about what it takes to write a great fight scene.

  • Time: Sunday 28th May, 2:15pm – 3:30pm
  • Room: Lower Platinum

Writing questions for April

This is going to be a short post with some questions that I’m hoping those of you who are following this blog, and anyone else who sees it, will respond to as it will give me a better idea of who is reading this, and also, why. I have a feeling that a lot of people who pop in here are writers, but I will see what the results show.

Questions

1.  With so much information out there now readily available via the internet on blogs, vlogs, social media, author websites, as well as attending events and courses, are there any parts of the publishing process that are still a mystery? And if so, which parts?

2. Are you a writer aiming to, one day, get published? And if so, how far along are you with your current work in progress?

3. Are you struggling with a particular part of the writing process? If so, which part?

4.  If you’re not an aspiring writer, are you  fan of fantasy? Science fiction? Both?

That’s it, short and sweet. Let me know in the comments.

Battlemage wins the Hellfest Inferno Prize

I am delighted to announce that Battlemage (Mage de Guerre in France) has won the first Hellfest Inferno Prize, via a public vote, beating such esteemed authors including Clive Barker, Joe Abercrombie, Bradley Beaulieu, Kim Wilkins and Peter Pevel.

I’ve just returned from a short visit to Paris, where I visited the offices of Bragelonne, my French publisher, to receive my award. Thank you to everyone who voted for Mage de Guerre, and thank you to everyone at Bragelonne who took very good care of me during my brief stay in France. I had a lovely time!

 

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.

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.

A review of 2016

This is going to be a best of the best post for me for 2016 covering TV and films.  Not the best ever. Not everything I’ve seen, or read or done, just some of the highlights.

Books

Bloodmage Stephen AryanBook round up first. So this year book 2 (Bloodmage) and book 3 (Chaosmage) were published. And it’s just over a year now since Battlemage was published. So that’s it. The first trilogy, the Age of Darkness, is done. To me it feels like Battlemage was published a long, long time ago, but that just because I’ve been working on it for a few years behind the scenes.

Looking ahead, the first book in the new Age of Dread trilogy will be coming out next October. Seems like a long way away, here in December. It will be here before I know it and I have a lot of writing to do before then.

Films

Captain America Civil WarCaptain America: Civil War – or Avengers 3 as it could easily be called because it had just about everyone in it, apart from Thor and Hulk. But Chris Hemsworth did a funny Thor video about what he’d been up to and why he wasn’t asked to join the fight. Anyway even without them the film was excellent. It was a top 5 Marvel films for me and maybea  top 3 although I need to rewatch it a couple of times before making that call, as currently The Winter Soldier is in the top spot. First outing for Chadwick Boseman as the Black Panther too and he was incredible, so I’m really looking forward to his solo film.

Dr StrangeDr Strange – It was weird, and different, and yes, Strange, and it made magic in the real world a bit more understandable and relatable. Also kind of familiar, for me at least, what with all the wizards and stuff. But this could easily have been a weird outlier of a film that didn’t connect to the others, but Cumberbatch made it fun and engaging and the rest of the cast were fantastic, from Benedict Wong to Chewitol Ejiofor to the entrancing Tilda Swinton.

Deadpool – I didn’t see this at the cinema. I’m not a fan of the character in the comics and think it’s one note that’s only amusing for 5 minutes. However, after some serious persuasion I finally watched the film on DVD. And then I proceeded to laugh all the way through from start to finish. It was the antithesis of superhero movies in so many ways. There were so many jokes I’m positive I missed lots of them, but the fact that it was a really amusing film was what completely surprised me. I can see why it was such a big hit as it made fun of so many things and bless Ryan Reynolds for having a sense of humour and broad shoulders, as he took the piss out of himself a lot.

CreedCreed – This film was released in November 2015 in the USA but here in jolly old England we didn’t get it until February 2016 for some reason. An oddity in modern cinema when the gap between America and the UK is normally a couple of days and sometimes we get the film first. Anyway, that aside, this film was a gem. I never wanted another in the Rocky franchise after the perfect end that was Rocky Balboa, and yet this film works. I’m a huge fan of the Rocky franchise, and if you don’t know already I co-host a podcast where we talk about action movies once a month (Bags of Action – on iTunes). I was amazed by the film and it quickly entered the top 3 films in the franchise for me. A new film for a new generation with a new hero that also respects everything that came before.

Honourable mentions – 10 Cloverfield Lane, Suicide Squad, The Magnificent 7.

Turkeys – Star Trek Beyond. I like the new Trek films. Love the cast. Very excited by them. Even with all of the flaws in Star Trek Into Darkness, this was the worst of the new Trek films. It was Star Trek: Kirk Too Fast Too Furious on a bike. It was action and effects over substance and character. A few funny character bits do not make a good Trek film. 10 minutes of good stuff in a 2 hour film is crap. Star Trek should make me feel something and normally it does. Whether that’s the TV shows or the Shatner films or the Next Gen films. I came away from this film feeling nothing at all. It was a hollow waste of so many talented actors. Another turkey was Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Yawnsville. Utter toilet. Again, great actors, huge waste of time and money.

Television

The Flash Season 2The Flash and Supergirl – These two shows are the best of the CW DC comics TV shows. They’re funny, quirky, don’t take themselves too seriously, inventive, they make me laugh, they give lots of nods to the comic book fans like me, and they’re uplifting and entertaining. Arrow and Legends are good, but not as good.

Daredevil season 2 – For me Daredevil is still the best of the Marvel Netflix shows. Luke Cage was good, but a bit too long at times, but even with some niggles this season, DD was amazing. From Elektra to the Punisher to Stick to Karen Page. Wow. How Deborah Ann Woll hasn’t received an award for her performance in this show I’ll never know. She’s mesmerising and a breath of fresh air. Also she’s a new face for me, as I didn’t watch Tru Blood, so I’m not thinking of her from that show. I’ve already rewatched most of this season again. It has that rewatch factor that the others don’t.

WestworldWestworld – no spoilers here, but this show was disturbing and worrying and very dark. It also bears rewatching now that I’ve come to the end of it and some things have been revealed. There are various mysteries in the show which they explain but a second run through will see if it all holds together now that I know what I’m looking for. Overall a great new TV show.

Marco Polo season 2 – Sadly the news just broke that this was the last season as Netflix cancelled it. I’m very saddened by this news as this show was fantastic. Amazing international cast of actors, filmed in glorious locations around the world and a fascinating fictionalised glimpse of a period in history in Mongolia and the court of Kublai Khan. Well, at least there are 2 seasons, and a special one off about a much loved character on the show. If you’ve not seen it, I would recommend watching it but take your time as it seems highly unlikely we’ll ever see any more of it in the future.

Stranger ThingsHonourable mentions – iZombie season 2, dark and twisty and weird. Stranger Things – an amazing and clever and weird and glorious homage to the 1980s. Loved it. Can’t wait for more next year.

This year we’ve had a complete glut of amazing films and TV shows in particular and next year looks to be no different. There are so many amazing things to look forward to I’m both keen to hold on to the few remaining days of 2016 as I don’t like to wish my time away, but I’m also desperate to watch some of the upcoming things like Defenders on Netflix, Iron Fist, Punisher, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Star Wars Episode 8, Thor 3, the new Star Trek TV show and so much more.

What were some of your favourite TV shows and films from this year?

November round up

A general update on what’s been going on for the last month or thereabouts. Starting with some book news.

Book 4

The first draft of book 4 (currently untitled), the first book in the new Age of Dread trilogy, has been sent off to my publisher. Phew. I got it in a couple of weeks early and I had enough time to do a pretty solid revision with some input from a trusted source. As it was the first book in a new trilogy, and even though it was set in the same world, I was super nervous. Digging in and giving it a good polish before it went off to my editor, and getting some positive feedback, has helped a lot. So now I am cracking on with book 5. I should say, you don’t have to have read the first trilogy (Age of Darkness) to read this book, however, it does follow on chronologically from the first and there are lots of overlaps in terms of characters and so on. But it is possible to come in as a fresh reader and it will all make sense. Book 4 comes out next year in October.

Blog posts

I’ve recently done some guest posts on a few blogs. The first was My Book: The Movie, where I was asked who would I cast if they were going to make a film of Battlemage. My answers often change but right now these are the people I see in the roles, so it gives you a bit of an idea what they look like in my head beyond what you read on the page.

The second blog post was over on The Page 69 Test. This is where if someone were to open my book to that page, what would they find? Is it representative of the whole book or not? Would it give new readers enough to make them keep reading? It was an interesting idea to explore and in this case p69 of Battlemage gives a flavour for one aspect of the book.

Interviews

There are a couple of these coming up. One I did for Mur Lafferty on her podcast, I Should Be Writing. Once this goes live I will repost it. I also did my first video interview! Very nerve racking and tense. However, I got through it and the two people who interviewed me were very friendly and helped me relax. This was during my recent trip to the MCM Expo in London and it was for Solarstorm Entertainment. The video will be on YouTube. I was interviewed along with several other Orbit authors on the day. [edit, the interview is now live]

Gaming

I don’t tend to talk much about games, but I thought I would add something for a change. I mostly say I’m a lapsed gamer, as I don’t have time to play as much as I used to. However, recently I have picked up the odd game from Steam and the best of them has been Fallout 4. This game is remarkable. It’s probably one of the best games I’ve played in the last 10 years or more. It has all of the elements that I like, exploration, a deep back story and world building, a sandpit aspect to the game, a strong storyline with some major twists that keep me guessing and also wondering about my actions and the choices I’ve made as my character. It is also massive. There is a lot to explore. It’s been a great way to unwind while wiping out a few settlements of Super Mutants.

That’s it for now. If you have read any of my books and would like to do me a favour, please post a review on Amazon or Goodreads, as it does help to me noticed by other potential readers.

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.