Tag Archives: books

Changing media over the last decade

About this time of year people typically post things about what they’ve done over the last year, or even the last decade. I thought about it, but decided not to do that. I could list some of the TV and films I’ve watched but there’s too much and picking out favourites is difficult. Instead I’m going to write about how I think the different mediums have changed over the last ten years and my rambling thoughts on it all.

TV and Film

The short version is we are in a golden age of entertainment. In the last 10 years I’ve watched some of the most engaging TV shows of my life. I’ve seen films that have amazing spectacular visuals, that make it worthwhile seeing on a big screen with surround sound in a giant room. Those films are just not the same on a TV at home no matter how big the screen, it can’t compare and for that and other reasons I think cinemas will always be around. Games (computer and console) have also leapt forward, with new consoles with better graphics, three dimensional characters with interesting relationships and there again more thoughtful  and intricate stories as well as lots of explosions and FPS which I also enjoy. I’ve recently been replaying Half Life 2 again and it’s been lots of fun. Sales of some console games leave films in the dust because they are so popular and have such a huge following around the world.

Games

I think MMORPGs are not dead, not exactly, but I think their heyday has definitely passed when 20 million subscribers was the norm. I can be engaged by a game for a few hours but sometimes I just want to play something for 20-3o minutes and not have to pay a monthly fee to do it. Maybe a new MMORPG will come out and hook me again but I doubt it as I’ve not played WoW in years and prefer to dip in and out of other things, or play a game until it is finished and then move on to the next rather than constantly be stuck in the second act of something that has no end. People play a lot more games on their phones and ten years ago this didn’t exist. I see more of that in the future and more free games with micro-transactions.

Books

I don’t think a lot has changed other than to say there’s a lot more to choose from as well. In the SFF arena, the number of books being published each year has increased so there are always books I’ve missed, authors I’m vaguely aware of that are popular and favourites among some readers, and other authors I’ve just not heard of before. People will be aghast and say you’ve not heard of X?? But that’s just because there’s too much of everything to stay up to date. And, people are constantly battling for attention on social media so the flood of information never stops 24×7 which means you can blink and miss it.

So because of all of this I’ve had to become more selective. Some TV shows I was previously watching out of loyalty but not really enjoying, I’ve dropped and don’t miss them. Social media has changed a lot in ten years. Widening it to include stuff like YouTube, as that feeds into what people watch, there’s definitely been a shift. I have some friends with children who only watch YouTube, or 90% of their content comes from YouTube as they consider that TV and their celebs are people on Twitch channels or YouTube personalities. I’ve found myself watching more in the last 2 years, following people I previously knew from elsewhere (sports people, TV stars and a couple of celebs) who have gone on on to develop their own channels. I also follow channels about hobbies I’m interested in but I’m not interested in watching someone else play games. I’d rather be doing it myself.

Comics

I think comics is the least well adjusted medium for 2020 and beyond. Waiting a month between single issues, especially on ongoing series with no definitive end, isn’t something that can continue. It’s too slow, it’s old fashioned, it doesn’t work any more and the number of Wednesday Warriors gets smaller every year. Even with the best writers and artists I’m just not reading as many ongoing titles. I’ve shifted to a digital trial and if it is good I’ll get it in trade. If it’s a mini series or similar I might read it all digitally or trade wait. DC has had a bit of shift, creating Black Label with top creators producing shorter series, as well as launching DC Ink and DC Zoom for younger readers and I think that’s a great step in the right direction but more needs to be done to bring in a lot more younger readers and, more importantly, keep them reading year on year. The temporary boost of big named creators, or a new issue 1 on a big title doesn’t work long term, and I still think a significant change needs to be made.

In comparison to DC, Marvel seem to have just given up on attracting younger readers. They license most of their biggest characters to other publishers to write stories for kids and the YA audience. A lot of young people know Marvel and DC characters from animation, games, movies and even TV shows, but not the comics themselves which is a huge shame. I think many people in suits in Hollywood still view comic books as nothing more than cheap R and D. The glory days of Image comics and even the Kirkman Manifesto are gone. Bar a couple of huge successes like the Walking Dead, Image comics isn’t what it used to be. Also making a decent living just on creator owned titles isn’t possible any more. There are always exceptions but many creators work in multiple mediums, across Big2 books and their own in order to make a living.

What’s next?

I think out of all of the mediums, TV is adapting the quickest to keep up with the times. More paid subscription services are popping up every day. People will begin to swap around, chasing TV shows they like the look of, cancelling one and moving to another for a few months at a time. There’s so much diverse content out there. If you can’t find several shows that you enjoy then you’re just not looking hard enough.

There seems to be a bit of a shift with films. There are few small films being made and by that I mean 20-50 million dollar movies that are not part of a massive franchise. Watching those films at the cinema are few and far between, or you are blink and miss it with one week at the cinema and then the next day they appear on Netflix or Amazon. So there is a place for them to be made, but I think some should still be viewed on a big screen and just won’t get a chance. I don’t think every single film at the cinema will be a franchise of some kind but I think that wave will continue for a while.

E-sports will continue to grow until it starts appearing on more mainstream TV channels. Social media ‘stars’ are also on the rise and I think that will keep going. We’ve now reached the point where some TV shows feature them in order to try and attract a new audience, even on the BBC. Previously such institutions would have ignored such people but the number of followers they command means more crossovers in the future.

Books. They’re a weird one in some ways. I think we’ll see more adaptations, partly because platforms are desperate for content and there are already a dozen or more SFF TV shows in the works based on big series (LOTR, Wheel of Time, Witcher, Kingkiller, GoT prequel, Expanse, Wildcards etc) and I think there will be more going forward. If this then makes people go back and start reading the books between TV series then it’s a win win situation.

For me comics is the biggest unknown and where it goes is the most difficult to predict. I’ll be keeping a close eye on it and I have some ideas of my own but we’ll see. I couldn’t have predicted some of the shifts we’ve seen since 2000 in terms of media development and I think the next ten years are going to be even more unpredictable.

Comments Off on Changing media over the last decade

Filed under Books, Films, Games, TV, Writing

Magebane week

To celebrate the publication of Magebane this week below are links to a few things I’ve been up to recently.

Podcast Chat

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.

New Interview

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.

Birmingham Event

Don’t forget I’ll be doing an event at Waterstones Birmingham on Thursday 5th September at 6.3opm with Anna Stephen and GX Todd. More information and tickets are available here.

Comments Off on Magebane week

Filed under Books

How many pages do you give a book to grip you before giving up?

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:-

Sometimes the answer was proportional to the length of the book

Sometimes the answer was related to cost

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?

 

 

 

 

Comments Off on How many pages do you give a book to grip you before giving up?

Filed under Books, Writing

Magebane events

MagebaneTo 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.

 

Comments Off on Magebane events

Filed under Books, Events

Talking books with….

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.

Crash Landing LogoThere 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 episode was 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.

Bags of ActionI’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.

 

Comments Off on Talking books with….

Filed under podcast, Writing

Something new and doubt

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.

 

 

Comments Off on Something new and doubt

Filed under Books, Writing

2019 Events

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.

On Saturday 2nd February from 1.15-2.15pm Anna Stephen  and Gemma Todd will be hosting a panel on How to Find a Literary Agent as they share their stories and experiences with attendees. More info on the time, location and how to get tickets is available here. Tickets go on sale Monday 10th December.

On Sunday 3rd February at 4.30-5.30pm is a panel called Writing the Fantastic. I will be hosting this event with Anna and Gemma. We’ll be talking about why we write fantasy, our inspirations, what we love about the genre and how it allows us to talk about the real world. More information on the location and how to get tickets is available here.

I hope to see you there!

Comments Off on 2019 Events

Filed under Books, Events

Other Worlds Event – Sat 6th October

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!

Click here for more information about the event and to book your tickets

Comments Off on Other Worlds Event – Sat 6th October

Filed under Books, Events

Mageborn competition winners

JMageborn by Stephen Aryanust a quick post to say I’ve chosen 5 names at random and the following people have won a signed copy of Mageborn!!!!

1) Cyberdechu

2) Lauren Maharaj

3) kaladanuk

4) theamazingmrg

5) psoans

Please email me your full name and postal address to receive your copy to stephenaryan56 [at] gmail.com

 

 

Comments Off on Mageborn competition winners

Filed under Books

Magefall publication event

To celebrate the publication of Magefall, book 2 in the Age of Dread trilogy, I will be taking part in an event at Forbidden Planet in Birmingham.

This will be on Wednesday 5th September from 5-6pm. I will be there with Anna Stephens and GX Todd and we might do a bit of a talk and Q and A before the signing, depending on timing.

If you can’t attend but would still like a signed book then you can order it from Forbidden Planet via their website here

Tickets for this event are free so you just need to turn up on the day.

To find the FP Birmingham store the address is  – 74 Bull Street, Birmingham, B4 6AD

I hope to see you there!

 

Comments Off on Magefall publication event

Filed under Books, Events