To celebrate the publication of Magebane this week below are links to a few things I’ve been up to recently.
I was recently on the Functional Nerds podcast with Patrick and over the course of an hour we talk about all things geeky including some comics, TV shows, Star Trek news and the Shazam movie. You can listen via iTunes or go here for more information and links.
There’s a new interview with over at The Fantasy Hive where I talk about some of what I’ve been reading, my current work in progress and a little bit about my approach to writing. You can read the interview here.
Reddit Fantasy AMA
Don’t forget I’ll be doing a Reddit Fantasy AMA on Tuesday 13th August next week. For roughly 24 hours I’ll be answering any and all questions. It’s free and you can join in here.
Having just put down a book before reaching the end, I asked this question on Twitter as I was curious about how others felt.
To my surprise the majority of people stop reading if they are not enjoying a book, rather than persisting to the end. There was a range of answers related to page count and chapters, with the most extreme answer, I think, coming from Philip Pullman:-
About 100 usually. Sometimes much less. I’ve given up after 2 before.
Sometimes the answer was proportional to the length of the book
Well, it depends. If a book has 100-200 pages, than probably 20-40 pages. If it has like 800 than 100 is max. But if a book is really good it usually gets me from first two pages, like Fight Club or Catcher in the Rye.
So, here’s a follow up question as a poll. I wonder, if the general stance has changed because in 2019 we have TV and films on demand, whole TV series arrive in one chunk and can be binged, hundreds of cheap digital books available at the press of a button, and there’s more content than ever before.
Are we less patient with books? Do we want them to get to the good stuff sooner? Has all of this impacted your reading attention span? Are you less forgiving?
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To celebrate the publication of Magebane (available to preorder from all good bookshops now, hint hint!) I’m going to be doing a few events online and in person.
Thursday 8th August
The book is officially published on Monday 5th August so to coincide with that I’m going to be doing my first signing event in Scotland. On Thursday 8th August in the evening I will be at Waterstones Argyll Street in Glasgow on a panel discussion with Cameron Johnston and Shona Kinsella, moderated by Cat Hellisen. We’re going to be talking about wrapping up a series, saying goodbye to characters – potentially forever, the joy and terror of starting something new and writing in general. You need to buy a ticket for this event, so please visit their website for more information or pop into the shop if you are local. Come along and join us. You can find more information here.
Tuesday 13th August
If you’re not in the UK and not able to attend one of the events I’m going to be doing a Reddit AMA over at reddit.com/fantasy. If you’re not a member then Reddit is free to join and an AMA is an opportunity to Ask Me Anything. This could be about the books, characters, writing in general, hobbies, pets, whatever really. I’ll be there online for roughly 24 hours and will regularly check in on the thread throughout the day and night to answers questions as best as I can. If you have spoilery questions you can ask those too but there are ways to conceal the text on Reddit, so it doesn’t spoil it for others. If you have questions anyway, but don’t want to be on Reddit, you can just email me. Info is in the about page on my website.
Thursday 5th September
A few weeks later I will be at Birmingham Waterstones on Thursday 5th September in conversation with Anna Stephens and GX Todd. This will be to celebrate the publication of Magebane but also Bloodchild, the third novel in Anna Stephens Godblind trilogy. We’ll be talking about books, finishing series, starting new stuff, and the general highs and lows of writing. It should be a lot of fun. More info and a link on this event when it’s available.
As some of you may know, as well as writing, I am also involved with podcasting. I’ve been doing it for 11 or 12 years now. At the moment I’m doing a few different ones (more info on all of them here) but perhaps the most relevant if you follow me for book stuff is Crash Landing.
There is where I talk to other writers about books. In particular their favourite 5 books. These are their most cherished if they were the only 5 books they had access to in the entire world. It’s a tough challenge to whittle down all of the books you’ve ever read to 5, but so far everyone has managed it, more or less, although RJ Barker did cheat slightly by claiming if he taped two books together they were technically one book.
The most recent episodewas released this week where I talked to Tasha Suri about her books, writing, her inspirations and through the process of discussing her favourite books it revealed some interesting facts about her too!
Other people I’ve spoken to on the podcast already include, RJ Barker, Francesca Haig, Jamie Sawyer, GX Todd, Niel Bushnell, Al Robertson, Anna Stephens, Taran Matharu, Barry Nugent and Cameron Johnston.
I’ve also been setting up a YouTube channel for Bags of Action, which is where a friend and I discuss and review action movies. These are classic and modern and this is now on YouTube here so if that’s your thing too then check it out.
Right, I’m off to edit the new book and more news on that when I have it.
I’ve just sent in the first draft of something totally new to my agent for her feedback. This is still fantasy, but the story is not set in the same world, there aren’t any mages in this book and it’s a bit different in terms of style and pacing. Now comes the waiting.
It was both refreshing and scary to start something brand new. Clean slate means no preconceptions and a totally new world where everything is shiny. There’s so much for me to discover and build. New characters to create. A whole new continent to populate with towns and cities. I spent so much time thinking about random things like heritage, architecture, trade and industry, weapons and armour. The list is endless.
It’s liberating but I also need to make sure that everything I create fits together in a cohesive and logical manner. It always baffles me when people who don’t read fantasy think we can basically write without rules and do anything we like, as if readers won’t mind that none of it hangs together. If anything fantasy authors have to work harder, especially when it comes to things like magic. It has to make sense, there have to be rules and costs, otherwise any time there’s any kind of a threat in a story someone can just wave their hand and the problem is solved.
The scary part comes from the little voice inside that wonders if I know what I’m really doing and if the first time was a fluke. That little voice of doubt is healthy, but it’s also a jerk. I think every sensible writer has doubts (any sensible creative person really) and if they don’t then we’ve all seen what kind of monsters they turn into (see Hollywood for example). Whether it’s your second book or your twenty second, if you don’t have doubts then it means you think you’re perfect and everything you write is gold and that is scary. Doubt is fine, it keeps me sharp, it keeps me hungry and it keeps me moving forward. But there are times when I have to point out to that little voice that I’ve gone a lot further than thousands (maybe millions?) of other people.
Even now I meet an endless stream of people who when they ask what I do and I tell them I’m an author their response is ‘Oh, one day I’m going to write a book.’ That one line has many connotations. When people say it now I just smile back, because I’ve done it. I wrote the book. I got the agent and then the book deal, and as of June this year I will have had 6 books published.
It’s not arrogance. It’s me reminding myself of how far I’ve come and what I’ve achieved. I put my money where my mouth was and I did it. It took a long time. Many years. Many failures. Many false starts and rejections. A lot of sacrifice and effort. But I’ve done it. They really can’t say the same.
So I still have doubts, but for now I’m going to ignore that little voice, put my head down and get on with writing a new book.
It’s almost Christmas but I’ve already been busy planning a number events for 2019. The first I will be taking part in is a new one for me, the Wolverhampton Literature Festival.
It runs from Friday 1st to Sunday 3rd February at a number of different venues around the city. The full PDF programme of events will be posted shortly but in the meantime you can peruse the website to find a brief summary. This is the first year they’ve done any SFF talks at the event so I was pleased to be able to bring it to the festival.
Just a quick post to serve as a reminder that next Saturday, 6th October in Nottingham, I will be taking part in the Other Worlds event at the Nottingham Writers’ Studio.
This is a full day of panels and workshops. The schedule and more information about the event is available on the website here, as well as how to buy tickets for the day.
I’m going to be there from mid-morning and I’m doing a couple of panels and a workshop on Fantasy Worldbuilding, with a special subtitle – Consider the Potato. All will be revealed about what the heck I’m talking about in the workshop which is going to be interactive and hopefully a lot of fun. All you need is a pen and an imagination!
The first draft of Mage3 (currently untitled), the third book in the Age of Dread trilogy, has now gone off to my editors at Orbit. So that’s it, I’m done….for the time being at least. In a few months’ time the next round of hard work will begin with edits and so on, but for now, I’m finished.
Looking back I think it will be about 10 years since I first sat down and started writing the first draft of Battlemage. I worked on that book for about 3 years on and off before I finally thought it was ready to submit to an agent. After that there was more work on it with my agent and then the publisher, and then I started work on the subsequent books in the first trilogy, the second trilogy and the novella.
I hate how everything is now ‘a journey’ and I’m not going to say I’ve been on one but these last 5 years in particular have been very interesting. Whenever you enter a new industry there’s always a lot to learn. In my case there was the perception of publishing from an outsider’s view and then I discovered the reality once I sat down with people like my agent, my editor and so on. It’s been eye-opening and thought provoking experience, that’s for sure.
Over the last few years I’ve definitely learned a lot from professionals in the industry but also from other writers. Those who have been in the business longer than me and have more books on the shelves. People have been happy to share their experiences and although everyone’s is unique to some degree there are patterns you can learn from.
When I started trying to get published (many years ago) self publishing was purely a phrase that meant vanity press. Now it’s transformed into something totally different. Many people prefer self publishing. Some have moved from self publishing to more traditional publishing and I know of a few authors who have gone the other way, preferring more freedom and control over all aspects of the process. I also know of a few hybrid authors who do a bit of both. So the landscape has changed dramatically in the last ten years, especially with the growth of ebooks and the internet.
So what’s next? I’ve already got some ideas, but I need to sit down to discuss them with my agent before being able to share any news. I can say that whatever I do next it will not be set in the same world. It will be something different and fresh in a new world. I need a change. That’s not to say I won’t ever come back to the same world, just not right now. I have two very distinct options at the moment but I need to mull them over and talk them through before deciding.
So at the moment I’m having a little bit of a break, I’m going to put my feet up, catch up on all the TV I’ve missed, maybe see a few films and then get back to work. So watch this space for any news!