Tag Archives: kim curran

MCM London Comic Con Roundup

MCM May 2017

MCM May 2017

A little over a week ago, during the bank holiday weekend, I attended the MCM London Comic Con which is the largest convention we have in the UK. Last year had a record crowd of about 133K and I expect the numbers for this year will be as high. It takes place twice a year and the next one is in October, so make a note in your calendar.

 

It’s a real cross genre geek pop-culture event, with a mix of TV and film stars,  games companies, film and TV companies like DC and Warner Brothers, comic book creators, manga and anime, lots of cosplay and a whole gaggle of fiction authors.

Batman catching up on the news in Gotham

About thirty authors over the course of weekend took part in a range of panels and discussions covering all sorts of topics from the weird to the hilarious. I took part in two panels on Sunday, but before that I popped by on Saturday to take a look around, catch up with some old friends, make some new friends over a few pints, and nose around the convention.

The event itself was packed and it was a gloriously hot summer day, so the outdoor area was awash with hundreds of people enjoying the weather, many in bright and colourful cosplay. From a distance it looked like a weird field of moving flowers dancing about in the sun.

Cosplay in the sun

Inside it was cooler but there were so many people it was difficult to move around in the main foyer, but the halls themselves were large enough that you were never squeezed in too tight and there was a lot to see in the two massive halls. I picked up a few bargains on Saturday, then did the usual author thing and went to the pub with some fellow writers.

Big thanks to the kind traffic warden on Saturday night who helped me find my hotel when the maps on my phone proved to be utterly useless. I was down to 1% battery at this point and I was starting to think I’d have to just call a taxi. It turns out it was only a couple of minutes walk from the DLR station but it was a totally new part of London to me, but I will know for next time if I ever stay there again.

Sunday was a lot more relaxed with one panel focused on Orbit, old versus new. Somehow Jamie Sawyer and I, despite both only having one trilogy out each, were on the Old side of the table, versus the youngsters who had just debuted or are due to later this year. It was a funny and weird panel and despite it being fairly early on a Sunday morning it went well and the audience seemed to enjoy it. The afternoon panel was about creating fight scenes and that led to a few laughs from the audience. Afterwards I signed some books and then it was all over. I was super tired after a long day and a half, but it was really good to meet up with some fellow authors.

I also got to meet fellow Orbit author, Nick Eames, who made the long journey from Canadia-land for the event. Sadly I didn’t have any Timbits to make him feel welcome, but we are getting our first Tim Hortons in the UK very soon. Also a quick hello to lots of other authors I chatted to over the weekend including Jamie Sawyer, Jen Williams, Adrian Selby, Ed Cox, Ed McDonald, Claire North, Mike Carey, RJ Barker, GX Todd, Laura Lam, Kim Curran, Jason Arnopp, and anyone else I’ve forgotten. The moderators on our panels were also awesome and thanks to the press officer at Orbit, Nazia, for being excellent as ever. Organising authors is much like herding cats and we had several examples of that over the weekend!

If anyone took any photos during the panels please let me know and I’ll add them to the post. Right then, back to the first draft of book 5 for me.

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Blog Tour: Writers Blog Tour

Below is a post with a few questions and answers as part of a writers process blog chain going around the internet. I was nominated by Ruth Booth on her website and so at the bottom I’ve highlighted three more people who at some point in the future may post a similar blog. You get the idea.

What am I working on?

Currently I’m hip deep in structural edits for Battlemage which is due out next year in October from Orbit. When that’s done I will switch back to working on the first draft of book 2, while somewhere in the back of my head I will start knitting together the strands for book 3. I’m also nudging along a couple of comic book projects, both of which I’m co-writing with Pete Rogers. The first is a SF contemporary thriller graphic novel, and the other is a fly by the seat of your pants action thriller. A while ago now, I wrote a game for a computer games company, and that’s currently in the testing phase, so every now and then I play through sections of the game and send in my notes. Then a few weeks later download the next version and start all over again.

How does my work differ from others in my genre?

This is a really tough question and there’s no easy way to answer it. In the future I suspect other people will point out the similarities between my work and other fantasy writers, as well as some of the influences that are obvious to them. From the inside looking out, all I can say is I think my novels are a blend of modern and classic fantasy elements. They’re more fantastical than some, as magic is overt and not something that is brushed under the carpet, or only referred to in passing by characters. Also there are some non-human races of my own creation that are not facsimiles of orcs, trolls or elves. So this isn’t an alternate Medieval version of Earth, it’s definitely a totally different world. At the same time I have a modern eye, so I’m influenced by modern literature and media, which I think affects everything from character, to story, to pacing, to world building. One example is that while my dialogue is modern up to a point, it is also right for the setting, so no characters says OK, or Yeah at any time. Beyond that I’m not sure what else to add, but I’m positive other people will tell me.

Why do I write what I do?

Because no one else can write it. That might sound flippant or arrogant, but it’s not intended to be either. If someone had consumed all of the same books, TV, films, comics etc, that I have, and even if you gave them the core of the idea, the output would be different. I have several friends who have consumed a lot of the same stuff, but when we talk about stories they have radically different ideas and approaches. We’re all products of not only our upbringing, family, relationships, experiences and so on, but we all react differently to situations. All of which is shaped by decades of experience which creates someone unique. There are so many random factors in there I’m certain I have missed plenty of other things that shape us. At an early age I became interested in fantasy and because my mum saw how much it made me want to read, she picked up a set of fantasy related picture books which I flew through. That was just one small thing that directed me over the years. Simply put I write fantasy stories because I love the genre and the freedom it gives me. It’s where I feel most comfortable when writing stories conjured from my imagination.

How does my writing process work?

I think it’s fairly traditional. I use a word processor, I don’t have timers that switch off the internet for an hour or two and I don’t set word counts for the day or week. I scribble down ideas in a notebook as and when they occur. I would describe my writing style as more of an architect than a gardener. I plan out the spine of the story, the main beats, the start, middle and end. I add in some mile markers along the way and revisit it at this level until it hangs together. Then I add a bit more detail and break it down into chapters while thinking about character and story arcs. Then I start writing, but I don’t plan every chapter down to the nth degree or every little detail. I know who is in each chapter, what needs to happen and where it takes places, but there has to be some discovery in the process for me, or else it will become tiresome and boring. And if it is boring for me to write it will be boring and very dry to read. So there is a random element in there, and sometimes it emerges as a new point of view. Sometimes they are minor characters and sometimes they become important and their story starts to intertwine with that of the main characters. Sometimes I write about something I’ve never mentioned before and then I have to puzzle out where it came from in my subconscious and what it actually means. Once the first draft is done I go back and edit it many times before I show it to anyone.

Who to pass this on to?

Kim Curran – Kim is the author of the Shift, Control and Delete trilogy from Strange Chemistry, the YA imprint of Angry Robot books. She is also the author of Glaze, a new novel that has just come out and you can find more info about it on her website. I first met Kim a couple of years ago at an Eastercon convention I think it was where a large group of people went out to dinner. I must have avoided putting my size elevens in my mouth as she’s still talking to me.

Adrian Faulkner – Adrian is the author of The Four Realms from Anarchy Press. He is also a record breaking geocacher, storm chaser (no, really!) and all around good egg. He’s a top bloke, great creative writer and has been my stalwart companion at conventions for the last few years. You can find more information about Adrian here.

Chris F. Holm – Chris is the author of The Collector series from Angry Robot. They’re an incredible series of books and the easiest way I have found to describe them is demonic hard-boiled, pulpy noir. You can find more information about Chris on his website here.

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What comes next

Last night my co-host, Scott, and I recorded the last episode of our podcast Comic Book Outsiders. We broadcast and recorded it live and some listeners joined in with questions and we even had a guest listener on the show. Unfortunately for him he’d only just discovered the podcast, but at least there is a back catalogue of episodes for him to listen to and lots of interesting comics to discover.

During the show Scott also played a small portion of episode one, where we outlined why we were doing the podcast. Our goal at the time was to promote comics outside the spotlight, those that didn’t get as much attention in the press and comics press, but are equally as fascinating, thought provoking and of equal quality in terms of the writing and art. Over the five years we talked to, and even met, many creative people all around the world making great comics and I hope we managed to open a few eyes and widen a few horizons.

So, what next? Well, I’m not getting out of the podcasting game, but I am easing off on the throttle and I will be doing less. I’ve always been a big SFF reader and as part of the podcast we started The Book Club about 3 years ago. Every 6-8 weeks we talk about a novel, alternating between a classic work of fiction and more modern novel. There are no hard and rigid rules, but we tend to term modern as anything from the last fifteen years or so. We’ve covered a wide range of books from I Am Legend, Caves of Steel, Slaughterhouse 5, Fahrenheit 451, The Handmaid’s Tale to more contemporary work such as The City and The City, Empire in Black and Gold, Hull Zero Three and Zoo City. We’ve even been lucky to get some of the authors on the podcast, among them Adrian Tchaikovsky, China Mieville and Lauren Beukes, and pose questions from listeners. For me this podcast is great because it forces me to read some of those novels I’ve always talked about getting around to but never quite managed, both classic and modern. It also forces me to try new stuff and get me out of my usual comfort zone which can make me a bit of a lazy reader. I always have a massive To Read Pile, but the deadline makes me get it done. Another part of the book club I enjoy is receiving feedback from listeners, as they often pick up on things I’ve missed and we always get a wide spectrum of opinions on the book.

There is a Good Reads group here, where you can post comments on the current book club selection and make recommendations for future book club selections if you want to take part.

Every month, but something I’m only taking part in every now and then, is a new podcast called Bags of Action. It mirrors the Book Club in a way, as every month a bunch of people will watch an action movie and then talk about it. We had lots of fun talking about our favourite action heroes on a recent episode of CBO and this is where the seed of the idea came from. There are about seven hosts, and we’ll have guest hosts too, so it will be a rotating cast of people talking about classic and recent action movies. It will be fun and silly and I am really looking forward to taking part. I enjoy movies that make me think and have something to say, but I also like the crazy action-hero popcorn movies. I don’t want to say CBO has not been fun, because it has, but there is an element of work that goesBags of Action into every episode, preparation for interviews, gathering news etc, and then the post-show work, editing, uploading and distributing. The only thing I need to do for this podcast is watch a movie. We’re recording the first episode later this week, so it will be out in another week or so. You can follow Bags of Action on Twitter here and there is also a Facebook group here if you want to talk about action movies, action heroes and all related geek and sundry. Also if you want to recommend action movies we have to watch, then post it on the Facebook group.

The last podcast I’m doing is a new writing focused podcast called Head Space. At the moment it’s monthly but we’ll see if I stick to that schedule. Episode 1 is already out and it is focused on the craft of writing. Every month I will chat to a writer about their process and how they create characters, story, worlds, their influences and where relevant, their experiences with the editing and publishing process. This is not intended to be a teaching podcast or a How To, it’s just a discussion about writing and how that particular personHead Space Podcast approaches it. I enjoy talking to other writers and finding out how they create and hopefully this podcast will provide interesting food for thought for myself and other writers out there. In episode 1 I spoke with Lou Morgan and you can visit the Head Space blog here (it will soon be available on iTunes under its own name if you want to subscribe there), to download the podcast. We talk about her debut book, Blood and Feathers from Solaris Books, which is released on August 2nd 2012 and her approach to writing. The book is being launched this Thursday at Forbidden Planet in London where Lou will be reading from the book and signing. Next month on the podcast, I’ll be speaking to Kim Curran and there will be more info on the Head Space blog closer to the time.

The last podcast on the new CBO network is called the Outsider Files and this is Scott’s new solo venture. I’m not sure about the schedule but every episode he will have a guest host on the show and talk to them about all of the stuff that they’re currently enjoying – comics, books, movies, TV etc and just have a nice chat.

That probably sounds like I’m doing more podcasts than before and committing myself to even more, but it’s actually less. We used to do CBO 3 weeks out of four every month and then moved it to a fortnightly schedule. I am always reading something, so The Book Club just makes me read certain books to a deadline, and 6-8 weeks is not tough. I’m not going to be on Bags of Action every episode, so that’s an every now and then thing, maybe every other month or one in three. And while Head Space is monthly, it might drift and become less often, but I’m not worried as I want to enjoy all of the podcasts I’m involved with and not punish myself if it runs late.

One of the questions we received towards the end of the live podcast last night was, am I still excited about comics? In all honesty, I am more excited now than I was five years ago. There are more independent comics now than five years ago and more importantly, many of them are receiving more widespread attention. Of course it’s still a struggle to get noticed in this crowded market, but some great independent comics are now enjoying remarkable sales and widespread attention because of adaptations on TV, animation and even films. Even a rumour of a TV or movie adaptation can cause a massive spike in sales as some properties are bought and then sit in development hell for years. But that’s fine, as long as it helps the creators, increases sales and gets the name of the comic out there into the wider market. So CBO is done, but I’m still very passionate about comics and am now creating some of my own. I hope to have some news about those projects next year but we’ll see how things go.

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This time last year…

A bit of a good news post today. This time last year I was at Eastercon where I met a few new people, one of whom had submitted her book to a publisher and was hoping for some good news. Fast forward a year and Lou Morgan’s first novel, Blood and Feathers, is being published by Solaris and released on August 2nd. The book is being launched in London at Forbidden Planet. Click here for more information if you are able to attend or alternatively show your support for an exciting new author by preordering a copy.

A couple of months back at Eastercon this year I met a couple of shiny and brand new authors who have books coming out in the next few months from Strange Chemistry, the new YA imprint. The first is Shift by Kim Curran which is being released on September 4th in the UK and below is a brief synopsis but you can find more information here.

When your average, 16-year old loser, Scott Tyler, meets the beautiful and mysterious Aubrey Jones, he learns he’s not so average after all. He’s a ‘Shifter’. And that means he has the power to undo any decision he’s ever made. At first, he thinks the power to shift is pretty cool. But as his world quickly starts to unravel around him he realises that each time he uses his power, it has consequences; terrible unforeseen consequences. Shifting is going to get him killed. In a world where everything can change with a thought, Scott has to decide where he stands.

Another new author I met at the convention was Laura Lam’s and her first book Pantomime is being released in February 2013 and below is a brief synopsis and more information can be found here.

R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada. Nestled among the glowing blue Penglass – remnants of a mysterious civilisation long gone – are wonders beyond the wildest imagination. It’s a place where anything seems possible, where if you close your eyes you can believe that the magic and knowledge of the vanished Chimeras is still there. It’s a place where anyone can hide.

Iphigenia Laurus, or Gene, the daughter of a noble family, is uncomfortable in corsets and crinoline, and prefers climbing trees to debutante balls. Micah Grey, a runaway living on the streets, joins the circus as an aerialist’s apprentice and soon becomes the circus’s rising star. But Gene and Micah have balancing acts of their own to perform, and a secret in their blood that could unlock the mysteries of Ellada.

If you want something new and interesting now and can’t wait for these books, then I recommend Anne Lyle’s book The Alchemist of Souls which is already out from Angry Robot. Anne was also at Eastercon this year where she appeared on several panels including one alongside a little author you might know about called George, to his friends, who is writing a series of books called A Song of Ice and Fire.

It’s an exciting time to be a reader of science fiction, fantasy, horror and all of the flavours in between. For me it is in fact the very best of times as there are so many books and so many exciting new voices out there. So, stop reading this and go and read a book!

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