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?

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.

Bloodmage Launch – Birmingham

Last week was the official launch of Bloodmage, book 2 in the Age of Darkness trilogy, at Waterstones in Birmingham. The shop is amazing. It’s six floors full of books, which sounds like heaven to me! I could spend days in there if they’d let me, and they serve food and drink in the cafes, so I wouldn’t starve.

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The launch was a great success and I met some lovely people who had read Battlemage and were keen for some answers about what was going to happen next in the trilogy and beyond that.

Bloodmage - Age of Darkness - Birmingham

 

 

 

 

 

After the Q and A I did a new reading from Bloodmage that seemed to well and got a few chuckles. I also signed a few books too and had an encounter with an odd man that kept offering people some of his slice of cake…for some reason. I think we were all supposed to be helping him with his diet.

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Thanks to everyone for coming along on a very rainy and stormy night. Special thanks to the booksellers who were very lovely and took very good care of me. In two weeks I’m off on tour, and I’ll be heading to Sheffield, Middlesbrough and then back to my home town of Whitley Bay.

Bloodmage UK tour dates

Bloodmage is out in the UK and USA on April 14th from my publisher Orbit books and I will be visiting a few places in the UK on a launch tour .

Thursday 14th April

Waterstones Birmingham High Street – 7pm – The event is free but please call 0121 633 4353 to reserve a seat.

Tuesday 26th April

Waterstones Orchard Square – Sheffield – 6.30-7.30pm – in conjunction with Sheffield SFF social club. The event is free but please call 0114 272 8971 to let them know you’re attending or visit the SFSF website for a ticket.

Wednesday 27th April

Waterstones Middlesbrough – 6-7pm – I will be in conversation with Niel Bushnell. We will be talking about our path to publication, science fiction and fantasy and there will be a Q and A and signing after. The event is free but you will need a ticket to attend. Tickets can be obtained in store or by calling and speaking to a bookseller on 01642 242682.

Thursday 28th April

Whitley Bay Library – 7pm. Tickets are £1.50 which includes refreshments and you will need to contact them to reserve a seat on 0191 643 5390

Bloodmage is here….early!

Even though it is not out for another month, today I received a box full of copies of Bloodmage! Feast your eyes on these lovelies. I can’t stop looking at them and sitting them next to my copy of Battlemage. It is so close now to the release date!

I’ve also arranged a few more UK events and will be releasing the details as soon as I can, but these will be next month, and they will be in the North. In the meantime, enjoy the view!

Bloodmage Stephen Aryan

Battlemage heads to France

In March this year Battlemage comes out in France from my French publisher, Bragelonne. It joins the ranks alongside versions from Orbit and Piper in Germany.

Battlemage is currently available in the UK, USA and lots of other countries around the world in English, but very soon it will also be appearing on French shores. I am delighted to reveal the French cover below and showcase it alongside the Orbit and German covers for comparison.

It is always fascinating for me to see how someone else has interpreted the characters and story. Below are the three covers so far. So, which one do you prefer?

 

Some interviews and things

So recently I’ve been asked to do a few interviews on some SFF blogs and website. People all over the world are starting to discover Battlemage, and alongside reviews it’s nice to get a bit more info from the author and try to work out what the heck was going on his brain when he wrote it and what is coming next. Or sometimes they just want to know what I like to drink, which is also cool.

Below are some links to the interviews, plus below that a few more photos of Battlemage out there in the wild.

Mogsy interviewed me over at the Bibliosanctum, which was very kind of her. We talk about characters and magic and my chances of survival during a zombie apocalypse.

João also interviewed me over at Fantasy Literature where they are doing a giveaway if you are in the UK or USA. We talked about the origin of the book plus my influences, a little bit about what is coming next in in Bloodmage, the second book in the Age of Darkness trilogy and also my favourite kind of drink.

Someone in Sydney, Australia sent me a tweet saying they’d just finished reading Battlemage, which was super cool, but a good buddy and cartoonist, Luke Foster, sent me a photo of the book in Manchester, Connecticut, which is the furthest away  from the UK I’ve seen. If you can beat that, let me know!

Another really awesome was a lovely bookseller called Vicki in Waterstones in Swindon, put my book alongside Neal Asher and Andy Weir’s Martian on the recommended table. So thank you very, very much to Vicki for that.

If you’re somewhere further west in America than CT or somewhere in Europe and you’ve seen a copy of Battlemage in your local bookshop, then take a picture and let me know!