Saturday, December 29, 2012

Orb Sceptre Throne: A Review

Orb Sceptre Throne
A Novel of the Malazan Empire
By Ian Cameron Esslemont

Darujhistan, city of dreams, city of blue flames, is peaceful at last; its citizens free to return to politicking, bickering, trading and, above all, enjoying the good things in life. Yet there are those who will not allow the past to remain buried. A scholar digging in the plains stumbles across an ancient sealed vault. The merchant Humble Measure schemes to drive out the remaining Malazan invaders. And the surviving agents of a long-lost power are stirring, for they sense change and so, opportunity. While, as ever at the centre of everything, a thief in a red waistcoat and of rotund proportions walks the streets, juggling in one hand custard pastries, and in the other the fate of the city itself.

Far to the south, fragments of the titanic Moon's Spawn have crashed into the Rivan Sea creating a series of isles...and a fortune hunter's dream. A Malazan veteran calling himself 'Red' ventures out to try his luck-and perhaps say goodbye to old friends. But there he finds far more than he'd bargained for as the rush to claim the Spawn's treasures descends into a mad scramble of chaos and bloodshed. For powers from across the world have gathered here, searching for the legendary Throne of Night. The impact of these events are far reaching, it seems. On an unremarkable island off the coast of Genabackis, a people who had turned their backs upon all such strivings now lift their masked faces towards the mainland and recall the ancient prophesy of a return.

And what about the ex-Claw of the Malazan Empire who now walks the uttermost edge of creation? Her mission-the success or failure of which the Queen of Dreams saw long ago-is destined to shape far more than anyone could have ever imagined.


I’ve been a Malazan fan since The Gardens of the Moon came out way back when. Unfortunately as the story progressed I became more annoyed with Erikson’s changing style, thought I read all the books to the end. One of the things that did keep me going was the world he had built with Ian Cameron Esslemont. This universe is amazingly rich in mysticism, religion, philosophy and culture. A true gem in a genre stuck in rehashing of pseudo-medieval England. So when I discovered that Esslemont was going to be writing novels set in the same world alongside Erikson’s own I was excited.

And happily having now finished his third work in the world, I still am.

As with most epic fantasy these days, Orb Sceptre Throne follows a handful of different character perspectives over three main storylines with regulars and new characters scattered around them. Now even if you haven’t read Erikson’s Malazan books you can read this as the story does – for the most part – stand on its own legs. Some back ground in the other Malazan books would add to your reading experience but it is not strictly speaking (writing) necessary.  And in stark contrast to Erikson’s own latter work Esslemont’s own prose is much more easily accessible to readers yet still retains the unmistakable feel of the Malazan world.

It’s good stuff!

Another point in Esslemont’s favor is that from the start the plot picks up building and old favorites from Darujhistan show their faces, and Ascendants appear. Moving through this book is effortless and twists and turns delight while everything continues to build a favorite fantasy universe. And you just know it’s all heading to something. Just like the Malazan books.

I adore this world. It’s at once both gritty and full of wonder. Both Esslemont and Erikson do a fine job, and while I haven’t tried Erikson’s new Forge of Darkness yet, for the moment Esslemont has pulled ahead in terms of readability for me.

I already have the next book – but I will pace myself. I don’t want to overdo it ;)

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Yeah. I'm excited.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Cover Art: The Daylight War UK

And here it is - the UK cover art for Peter V. Brett's much anticipated third volume in the Demon Cycle!

Pre-order it here!

Monday, December 3, 2012

One book

I saw this meme posted by Sarah of Bookworm Blues over on Facebook and thought it would work well here.‎

1. One book that changed your life?

Dragons of Autumn Twilight (Dragonlance Chronicles #1) by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman

2. One book you have read more than once?

The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan - okay so it's a series not just one book.

3. One book you would want on a desert island?

One? Seriously? I read fantasy - there is no such thing as one book in fantasy. So. What series would I want on a desert Island? Hmmm. Well, it would have to be The Wheel of Time by Jordan, or The Sun Sword by Michelle West (including prequels) or the Elantra Chronicles by Michelle Sagara (aka  West)

4. One book that made you laugh?

I assume the question relates to intentionally humorous books. Well I don't really read them. However I have read many a book that made me laugh that it was even published at all... Does that count?

5. One book that made you cry?

I get emotional in all the write places in most of the books I read.

6. One book you wish had been written?

Ummm... I don't know. My own? So I could get with writing the next one?

7. One book you wish had never been written?

Hehe. Well, that would be telling, and I have no wish to make enemies before I am even published so... And no I do not mean Fifty Shades. I read that. it was okay for what it was.

8. One book you are currently reading?

I am currently reading Cold Days by Jim Butcher. And Orb Sceptre Throne by Ian Cameron Esslemont. And A Soldier's Duty by Jean Johnson. And... others :P

9. What book have you been meaning to read?

I keep meaning to get back to The Grave Thief by Tom Lloyd so I can finish the series.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Memory of Light

Memories will become Legend.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Word by word

Word by word I am building a new scene. The 'reworking' of text that was already in place in the middle of the book just wasn't working so...


Shifting gears back into 'first draft' mode is shitty. Writing - at least the 'first time' around - is not something I enjoy. I enjoy having done it, not doing it. And reworking the 2nd and 3rd drafts etc is fun. The first draft creation.

Oh. My. God.

However I am getting there. I just wish I could get there a little faster.

Next year is submission year. So. Bum in chair, word doc open and words appearing.

Still a ways to go yet but I am closer than I have ever been and that is something.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Turning Older Books into E-Books


At long last one of my favorite series of all time - the Empire Trilogy by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts -  has been released as ebooks.

Well. Almost all of it.

For some strange reason I can only find Daughter of the Empire and Servant of the Empire on iBooks. There is no sign of book three Mistress of the Empire.


I want all three gods damn it!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Game of Thrones Season 3

Winter is coming...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Opinions are like...

Or, How to win friends and influence people.

The second part of my Christmas list is up over on the booktopia blog - you can see it here.

The ever lovely Kate Forsyth decided my post was worthy of a comment. She said:

Mmm, I wonder if this list was compiled by a man – given that there’s not a single woman fantasy writer included? Nor, may I add, any Australian authors. Odd, particularly given the wealth of talent in this country. I have to say that my own personal list would be very very different …a sign, I guess, that the realm of fantasy is wide and deep and filled with many things ….

Well, now though I am sure you could guess I am a man given my name at the top of the post, the post she chose to comment on was only Part One... Part two did include female authors - not many if we have to count such things - but they are there.

Geez. What a strange thing to feel like I need to justify my choices.

Given my years working at a genre specialist bookshop I am on first name basis with almost all the spec fic writers in Australia, the majority of whom are female, and have been beta read for a number of them. I have no prejudice against female writers. In fact my closest published author friends are women - and know I feel like I am saying 'some of my best friends are gay'. Go figure.

My list was compiled merely by going through pages of 'coming soon' titles on the Booktopia website and noting the ones that I was excited about. I did not think 'I want most of these to be men' I did not think 'I am going to exclude Australian authors'. I just made a list that was from necessity restricted to 20 titles. I could have gone on and on and on. But...

I guess you can't please everyone.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Christmas at Booktopia!

The first part of my Christmas Fantasy book list is up at on the Booktopia blog - check it out here.

The Science Fiction Christmas list is coming soon so stay tuned :D

Get reading and get buying people!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Cover Reveal: Battle

House War Book #5
By Michelle West


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Trinity Rising: A Review

Trinity Rising
The Wild Hunt #2
By Elspeth Cooper

Gair's battle has only just begun and yet his heart has already been lost. As he struggles with a crippling grief, still outwardly functional but inwardly torn into pieces, he sleepwalks into a situation that's greater and more deadly than he or Alderan ever anticipated. A storm of unrest is spreading across the land and they are going to be caught up in it - at a moment when Gair's hold on his magic, his greatest defence and most valuable tool, is starting to slip...

He is not alone in noticing the growing unrest and sensing something darker looming behind it. Beyond the mountains, in the bitterly cold north, Teia has seen the signs as well. After hundreds of years of peace her people are talking of a risky invasion to reclaim their ancestral lands her Speaker claims the gods are on their side, but Teia fears another, hidden hand of stirring her people up. Whatever the truth, all she can see in her future is blood, battle and death. If she could only see a way to avert that fate.

But how can men be convinced to fight, when they have no idea they are part of a war.

Following on from a solid debut in 2011 with Songs of the Earth, Elspeth Cooper returns with the next book in The Wild Hunt series and stretches her wings to fly.

While this tale is a rather straight forward epic fantasy the style and grace of Cooper’s prose comes across as that of a much more accomplished writer and its astounding to know this is only her second book. Well second published.

However it does show in the choice she makes in the structure of the narrative.

Trinity Rising begins halfway through The Songs of the Earth’s storyline by retelling certain events from the point of view of Sarin, the books antagonist, and fleshing out for the readers who he is and what his motivations are. This provides a neat foil to introduce a new, and probably now my favorite, character Teia, whose story is set amongst the Nimrothi clans adding spark and interest in what was – for me – a confusing way to start given we were left for almost half a book before we ‘catch up’ with the timeline to find out what happened with Gair, the main character of book one .

Teia’s introduction also heralds the presentation of strong female characters in Cooper’s world. Now strong females are a hallmark of fantasy fiction but the only reason this is noticeable in Cooper’s work is that the first book focused so tightly on Gair that the women (and indeed most everybody else) took a back seat. Trinity Moon presents a much broader canvas for Cooper to play on. And she does it well making the story explode in Technicolor by virtue of characterisation.

Book two of The Wild Hunt is a an epic adventure that ramps up the tension that was built in The Songs of the Earth, adding  more depth while opening the world and the story to new possibilities and greater scope.

Many epic fantasy writers have had PR trumpets blasting their impending stature as ‘the next big thing’ long before their books have been publish recently, yet to my mind most of them fall short of the mark. In contrast Ms Cooper has had some good press but nothing like some of the others I could mention, and she very much deserves it. In a market filled with those jockeying to position themselves as the heir to Jordan and Martin and the like, Elspeth Cooper is walking side by side with such ‘new’ voices as Peter V. Brett, Helen Lowe and Mark Lawrence. Her writing is crisp and clean, it engages the reader and paints a vivid picture as the story grows from the comfortable familiarity of ‘traditional’ into its own unique song that marks her as a writer to watch.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Onwards and Upwards

Well I finally pulled my finger out - after much procrastinating and worrying - and continued with my third draft today.

It now stands at 60% rewritten. Yay me!

Now I need to keep going and come back to rewrite chapter 25 completely at when I am done. The next half of chapter 26, which I will do tomorrow, is a massive rewrite also. I feel like I am back in 1st draft territory and I loathe first drafting. It took me years to get this done. Okay it's still taking me years, but I feel like I am going backwards a bit.

Yes the story will be better for it but sheesh...

It's freaking hard work.

Any author who tells you otherwise is lying.

And as a side note - I have truly come to despise writers who tell you how interesting they think their characters are and how awesome their magic systems are, and that you'll have so much fun reading their work.  Quite frankly it's up to the reader to decide that not the writer, and any writer who does so is just big noting themselves.

Ok. End rant.

So tomorrow we chuck out what has been done and start from scratch (just of this part of the chapter).  Still a long way to go.

Oh. I've also been making plans. Given how long this book is and that some people are already screaming at me that I am shooting myself in both feet before I begin if I want to be published, I have come up with a plan I'd be happy with if I had to compromise and split the book from what I originally envisioned.

I'm not doing it yet. I will finish it as I started it. And I will submit it that way too. However I will offer the publisher I submit to a note explaining that if it turns into a case of 'I like it but it's too long' then it can be split.

Anyway. That's a long way off yet.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cover Art: Abaddon's Gate

Orbit have released the cover art for James S.A. Corey's next book, Abaddon's Gate, due June 2013.

Look's like I'll been to move Caliban'sWar to the top of 'The Unread' pile.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

In Progress

Mark Lawrence has put up the progress pieces that Jason Chan is doing for the cover of book 3 in his Broken Empire trilogy, The Emperor of Thorns.

Looks freaking awesome! But of course we have to wait something like another 10 months before the book is out *mutter, mutter*.

Mark Lawrence has become one of my favorite authors, although I do wish his books were longer, and while I can't wait to get my hands on book 3, I am eagerly waiting to see what he might come up with next.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Michelle Sagara and Booktopia's Ten Terrifying Questions

Cast in Peril
Chronicles of Elantra #8
By Michelle Sagara


It has been a busy few weeks for Private Kaylin Neva. In between angling for a promotion, sharing her room with the last living female Dragon and dealing with more refugees than anyone knew what to do with, the unusual egg she'd been given was ready to hatch. Actually, that turned out to be lucky, because it absorbed the energy from the bomb that went off in her quarters...

So now might be the perfect time to leave Elantra and journey to the West March with the Barrani. If not for the disappearances of citizens in the fief of Tiamaris-disappearances traced to the very Barrani Kaylin will be traveling with...

Yay! My 'interview' with Michelle has gone up on the booktopia blog - I am 2/3's of the way through Cast in Peril and (as is always the case with most of the things Michelle writes) I am loving it!!! Michelle's work awes me. And as much as it inspires me it makes me terrified of ever picking up a pen (or touching keyboard) again.

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born, raised, and schooled in the then borough of North York, which is now part of Toronto. When we moved into our newly constructed semi-detached home, there was a farm within walking distance, and we would take carrots to feed the ponies there. That didn’t last very long, and there’s really no evidence now of what was once a farm and its environs.

I still live in Toronto, so geographically, I’ve lead a very boring life.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

I honestly don’t remember what I wanted to be when I was twelve. I was, at that age, a voracious reader, but reading was not considered a terribly social activity (go figure); I would frequently invite multiple friends over to my house in the hopeful theory that they would play and talk with each other, so that I could curl up in a corner and finish a book.

I had no desire to be a writer at that stage. At age thirteen, if I had discovered the fanfic community, I’m almost certain I would have joined it–although maybe not. I wrote my first novel at that age, but never showed it to anyone. Thank god. Writing was intensely personal. I didn’t write for an audience; I wrote for me.

(I think, when I was six, I wanted to be a doctor or a fireman, if that helps).

I know what I wanted to be when I was eighteen, but it’s unlikely to be impressive: I wanted to be myself. Fully myself. I wanted to like – openly – what I liked, love who I loved, answer all asked questions honestly. I wanted to stop being terrified of what other people would think of me, to stop attempting to live up to other people’s expectations (or down to them). This started a year or two earlier, and I was a touch fanatic by this point.

I wanted to own my own life, accept the consequences for my own mistakes. I did not care, at that point, if this meant I would have no friends. I probably offended any number of strangers, because I was a prickly little porcupine: I wanted people to understand, up front, that I was me, not more and not less, and if they didn’t like it, they would regret making it my problem >.<. I started to spend more time with the geeks, and less time with the activists; I swore off of boys, declaring to a friend when she said that she wanted to be a bridesmaid when I got married that she could be a pallbearer at my wedding.

This may be because, at heart, I’m a lazy person. It was so much work to be someone who wasn’t me. It was work to watch every word and gesture and reaction. The thing is: we all want to be liked. It’s human. But I grew to understand that if someone liked me because I was pretending to be something else, they didn’t like me.

At the age of thirty? At the age of thirty, I had three books published. I had already decided that I would work in the bookstore and write books, because neither of these on their own would be enough to live on, but combined, they would pay my rent. I was married four years by that point. So: at the age of thirty, with some trepidation, I wanted to be a mother.

I’ve written about some of that experience on my LiveJournal.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

I can’t think of a single thing. Oh wait. I believed that I would never, ever get married.

I have to go back to fifteen, and even then, it’s amorphous: my attitudes about love, true love, and parenting were different – but I’m not sure I would classify that as belief.

I think at eighteen, I assumed that life was more personal, especially in disappointment, than I do now. I came to realize that life was not, in fact, out to get me; it happened. It just happened. But as I met people from different backgrounds, with different sexual orientations and different religions, it broadened my worldview without breaking any of it.

For instance: my mother had always taught me that when two people love each other, they get married. Seriously. That was the sum total of relationship advice.

What she *didn’t* say: was “when a man and a woman love each other” etc., etc. So discovering that people were gay, lesbian, bisexual was surprising, but it didn’t break anything. For me, the ‘love each other’ part was tantamount, if unpredictable from the vantage of a sheltered, normative life. (She was, otoh, shocked.)

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

The first SF novel I read was Ursula K. Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness. It was a revelation. At fifteen, I was aware of the difficulties that sexism and gendered attitudes caused, being among other things female. What I was less aware of was my own attitudes, my own assumptions.

In Left Hand of Darkness, there is one human diplomat and a planet full of aliens who do not have gendered sexual characteristics unless they’re in heat. They’re not defined by their sexual gender identities because they don’t have any; they can, during their cycle, adopt either gender for the purposes of procreation.

One of the aliens had a personality I did not care for at all. And I was shocked when that character went into his sexual cycle and became female. Everything about the personality – everything I didn’t like – seemed so ineluctably male to me.

And I realized, as I twisted my brain around the unexpected, that I *had* gender expectations and identifications, and that they *weren’t* harmless. All of early Le Guin SF had a strong effect on me. She examined the Other and the Other looked back from her pages.

In some ways, I was the Other in my early life. I was the child of one of the only two Japanese Canadian families in my neighborhood, and the only Asians. This lasted until I was in grade five or six, when a few Chinese families (from Hong Kong) moved in.

The second is Lord of the Rings. I read Tolkien for the first time as a child – it was the Hobbit. I loved it. But when I opened Fellowship of the Ring, it wasn’t about Bilbo – it was some strange Frodo person instead. I wanted a book about Bilbo. So I put the book down. I came back to it later. and I read it in one sitting (with the usual breaks for school, dinner, etc.).

I loved those books. They moved me in a way that nothing else I’d read to date had. I read them through three or four times in succession, and then read all the appendices, and then reread the hobbit. And I read them once a year, every year, until I had children.

The third is Dream of a Common Language, a book of poetry by Adrienne Rich, which I was given in my first year of university. Poetry is, to me, writing that depends on experience. Everything’s a metaphor, but without the specific life experience to which the metaphor speaks, the poem doesn’t work. It’s all ‘aha’ moments, moments of sharp clarity, moments in which a metaphor you would never have chosen feels exact, true and personal. Dream of a Common Language spoke to me strongly. I’m not sure it would have, had I discovered it earlier or later – but at that point in time, it sang.

I’m not entirely certain that I can trace a literary legacy through these three things, although I write secondary world high fantasy.

None of the three are music; none of the three are visual. I have almost no visual acumen, and when music moves me, it moves me entirely because of the lyrics.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

I didn’t, in my own mind, have innumerable artistic avenues. As I said above, I have no visual acumen, no spatial acuity–which would rule out visual arts. I always read. I wrote. I didn’t write *for* readers until my last year of high school, and even then, it was only for my classmates. I had a few poems published in the UC review in university, but only because it was a student run journal and one of the editors had been in a workshop class with me in that final year and he asked specifically for some of the pieces that had passed through the workshop.

I wrote my first entirely unreadable novel at thirteen years of age. I started three in high school. I did not start them assuming that I would be published: I wrote them because I couldn’t not write them.

But when it came time to choose what I wanted to do with my life, I chose to write, because I already wrote. I would have to take the risk of writing for people who were not me, of exposing my work to people who were also not me. I would have to learn how to revise, and when.

But it was time. I wanted to be read. I wanted–when read–to move people. I wanted to write something they could love in the same way I had loved Lord of the Rings. They were books of my reader’s heart. So is almost everything by Terry Pratchett. But what I love and what I can write are not always the same thing, and I doubt that anyone could find any hint of Pratchett in my writing.

So: I needed to find the stories I could believe in, and the stories I could tell.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

Cast in Peril is the 8th novel in the Chronicles of Elantra. (The first is Cast in Shadow). In it, Kaylin has a room-mate for the first time in her adult life, which earns her serious attention she doesn’t want from the Imperial Palace and the Emperor. It earns serious attention from unidentified assailants who aren’t best pleased by the race of her new room-mate, and it sees her leave the exterior borders of Elantra for the first time.

Also: an egg hatches.

I really don’t want to say too much more than that because it heads into spoiler territory and some people really dislike spoilers.

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

I want, first and foremost, to move people. I want to make them laugh (hopefully when something is intentionally funny >.>) or cry or bite their fingernails.

But I also want them to see some of their own life in the struggles of the characters, and I want them to emerge with something like hope. I write fantasy. Fantasy is generally considered escapist. I won’t argue with this: it is. But when we step outside of our own lives for hours at a time, we’re open to experiences that we don’t have the spoons for while we’re struggling to stay above water. If my worlds aren’t true in the same way that going to the office/bookstore/school is, they’re true in a different way: the characters are human, and they want – for themselves – similar things: security. Safety. They want to be able to protect the things they care about, and to achieve the goals they’ve set themselves.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

This is hard, and I’m not sure I can answer it because the answer is a moving target; it depends on my mental energy at any given time. Today, because I have a million deadlines and I am flailing and running around like a headless chicken, I would say Terry Pratchett.

Why? Because I can’t do what he does. I admire it, I am so grateful for it, but I can’t do it. Pratchett makes me laugh, yes – but he makes me laugh by reminding me that I can be both frustrated and affectionate. That I can find the humor in things that didn’t, before I started the book, seem humorous at the time. Bureaucratic nightmares. Over-focused collectors. Terrifying mothers (Nanny Ogg.)

I emerge from a Pratchett novel in a much better frame of mind than I generally enter one in.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

Finishing all of the story arcs in the West universe.

I don’t have great, ambitious life goals. I want to get my kids through school. I want to finish the story I began in Hunter’s Oath, continued in Sun Sword, and am writing now in House War. I want to reach the readers to whom these books will speak.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

It’s funny that you should ask this, because I recently wrote an introduction for Tanya Huff, a special guest at this year’s World Fantasy Convention. In it, I distill all of the writing advice I learned from Tanya when we worked together at Bakka. Tanya and I have very different — VERY different — processes. I am a process geek. I love novel structure. I love the ways in which we all approach it, because no two writers work the same way.

Tanya is a practical, pragmatic person who has a strong aversion to pretension. She does not have the novel structure geek gene. And that’s fine. But if we read different books (with some overlap) and get excited about different things in those books, we both, at base, follow this advice:

Butt in chair. Write more. Whine less.

All the theorizing, all of the deconstruction, all of the research in the world doesn’t matter if you can’t make time to do the actual writing. When I look at that, it sounds harsh. But I wrote five books while working full-time. Tanya wrote more before she moved out of the city. When we start writing, we’ve got commitments, and most of us are working full-time. Making the time to write, and doing the writing in that time, had to be a priority. It came before television (I didn’t watch much) or movies or drinking with friends – because it had to be done in our ‘spare’ time.

Having said that?

No two writers work the same way. Some writers write 60 page outlines. Some don’t write outlines at all. Some write scenes out of order as the mood strikes them; some have to write from page 1 to the end. Some write dossiers on characters. Some discover character as they write.

There is no one way to write a novel. There’s only your way. So, while your butt is in the chair and you’re writing, everything else is up for grabs. There’s no guideline to process; you have to find out – often by trial and error – what works for you.

Michelle, thank you for playing.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Trudi Canavan and Booktopia's Ten Terrifying Questions!

The Traitor Queen
Traitor Spy #3
By Trudi Canavan

The gripping final instalment in Trudi Canavan's latest epic series, the bestselling Traitor Spy trilogy.

Events are building to a climax in Sachaka as Lorkin returns from his exile with the Traitor rebels.

The Traitor Queen has given Lorkin the huge task of brokering an alliance between his people and the Traitors. Lorkin has also had to become a feared black magician in order to harness the power of an entirely new kind of gemstone magic. This knowledge could transform the Guild of Magicians - or make Lorkin an outcast forever.

The Traitor Queen is the triumphant conclusion to the Traitor Spy trilogy, which began with The Ambassador's Mission and continued with The Rogue.

At last! My interview with Trudi Canavan has gone up on the Booktopia Blog :D

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born, raised and schooled in Melbourne, mostly in and around the foot of the Dandenong Ranges.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

Twelve: I wanted to make films, something I had decided after seeing the Empire Strikes Back.

Eighteen: a writer AND something to do with art and design. Writer because of the Lord of the Rings, which I read at fourteen, and something to do with art because I love art and design and I knew that writers didn’t make much money.

Thirty? Still a writer, but I was hoping to be a published one so I could afford to spend more time doing it.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

That I was too shy to ever try, let alone enjoy, public speaking. The thought of it used to repel me, probably thanks to being humiliated during ‘drama’ classes at school, but since being published I’ve gradually done more of it. While I still get nervous before hand, once I get before an audience, if I’m well prepared, I find I relax and have fun.

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

The original The Little Mermaid. I was aghast that a fairytale could have a tragic ending. But when about twelve or thirteen, when challenged by a librarian to come up with a story on the spot, I made up one about a man who paid a witch to turn him into a merman so he could pursue a mermaid he’d fallen in love with, but when it came to the ending I realised ‘happily ever after’ didn’t cut it as a good ending.

I have quite eclectic tastes in music, and there are too many songs or pieces of music to list that have become soundtracks to stories, or simply motivation to pursue my dreams. The same is true of art and other imagery. I have a pinboard in front of my desk covered in postcards, photos and pages torn from magazines that I find inspiring.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

It seemed a large and worthy challenge. I changed my ambition from making films to writing books after reading The Lord of the Rings. It was the fact that Tolkien had invented such a fleshed out world that inspired me. Also, my father used to write down little notes for a book he wanted to write, and it seemed like a mysterious and worthy thing to do. That said, I didn’t think that I would have to choose between all my artistic, creative interests. When you’re young, you think you have all the time in the world.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel …

Traitor Queen is the third and final book in the Traitor Spy Trilogy, which is a sequel to the Black Magician Trilogy (but you don’t have to read the Black Magician Trilogy first). Everyone’s plans are stymied when the Sachakan king imprisons Sonea’s son after Lorkin refuses to agree to a mind read to find out what he knows of the Traitors. Dannyl’s friendship with the Sachakan adviser, Ashaki Achati is tested, Sonea must add negotiating her son’s release to her plans to meet with the Traitors. And Cery, Gol and Anyi have nobody left to call on to hide them from the Rogue Skellin, except Lilia.

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

I hope they have been entertained, moved and perhaps left with something to think about, be it some aspect of the world and the issues people face in it, or wondering what might happen to the characters next. And I hope they like my writing enough to meet the other characters and worlds I write about.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

I admire anybody with enough motivation and love of writing to finish a novel, because I know how much work is involved. I admire both publishers and people who self publish, for their belief and love for books whether their own or someone else’s. I admire booksellers who stick to selling books despite it being an industry with constant shifting boundaries and new challenges. Of writers I admire most those with the courage to be opinionated and vocal, especially women and writers who experience discrimination and disadvantage.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

To never stop trying to improve my writing. To write more short stories. To find the time for more art and perhaps one day do an illustrated book.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Read a lot. Write a lot. Get a lot of feedback. And most of all, enjoy it!

Trudi, thank you for playing

Saturday, September 22, 2012


Richard Morgan gave us a little sneak peak of the cover that the Gollancz art department has been working on for the next book in his A Land Fit for Heroes series.

I don't believe there is a due date yet - and actually I don't think Morgan is finished writing yet - but it's kinda cool... although I'm not entirely sure I like it (good thing the Gollancz art department doesn't rely on my yay or nay).  Stylistically it matches the first and second book but whereas they had a variation on sword arms as the centre piece this has a skull.

Still I love getting to see covers.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Official Trailer 2

Oh! I haven't seen the first trailer but I found this one today. Now I must admit I amnot a huge fan of Tolkien, or LotR's - but I might go to see this.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Peter V Brett completes Book Three

Yay! Peter V Brett anounced on his blog that he has finished The Daylight War, Book Three of the Demon Cycle.

I am soooooooooooooo excited!

There used to be a time when I was waiitng for the 'next Robert Jordan', it was something always in the back of my mind and had a place holder on my 'To Be Read' list. Unfortunately with Jorddan's passing - and other author's falling to the wayside - that there was void opening in that position.

Then along came Peter V. Brett. Now while he hasn't replaced Robert Jordan for me he has certainly taken a position of being a writer I have to read.

From his blog:

Yesterday, Sept. 17, 2012, I sent my publishers the final draft of The Daylight War.

The book is currently scheduled for worldwide English language launch the week of February 11, 2013 (Monday the 11th in the UK, Tuesday the 12th in the US*). The German translation will likely be the first to follow (probably a month or two later), with others dropping later in the year.

I will be touring the US, UK, Germany, Australia, and possibly some other places in the coming year. More on that later. I will also be doing a panel and some signings next month at NY ComicCon Oct. 11-14, 2012. Come say hi!

*Please note this is an update over the previously stated US launch date of Feb. 4, 2013. This shift means I will be 40 when the book releases, rather than 39. I’ll talk about that another time.

There will still be copyediting, proofreading and cover design that I will need to be involved in and approve before the book comes out, but creatively, the project is finished on my end.

It’s been a long time.

Looking back over my word count spreadsheets and manuscript backups (yes, it is OCD, but I need a way to track progress) I see that there was a file titled “Daylight War” as early as May, 2008, but it looks like I didn’t begin work on the project in earnest until around October 2009, which makes sense since I’d just turned in the final version of Desert Spear that September.

When you work on a single project for three years, though massive ups and downs in your personal life and equally massive ups and downs creatively, it is a strange feeling to be done. There were times I never thought the day would come, hurdles in the story I never thought I would surpass.

And then there was you, dear reader. One of the many advantages to writing in this day and age is that through my website, email, contests, signings and social media, I have had the chance to meet and interact with thousands of readers. It has been an immense honor and joy, not to mention a huge bedrock of support I was not ashamed to lean on at times, but it has brought a degree of pressure as well. I tend to obsess about my work in general, but having more than ten thousand people looking over my shoulder and asking when I will be done has added a new level to it.

Is The Daylight War better than The Warded Man (aka The Painted Man) or The Desert Spear? That is not for me to decide. It is very different in spirit and intent than those other books, intentionally so. I have grown as a writer and changed as a person over the last few years, and the book reflects that. When I start writing the same book over and over, then it’s time to worry.

But if I cannot say it’s better, I can say that it is the best book I could make it. I cut no corners, skipped no hurdles and took no shortcuts. This is clear in some ways from the sheer size of the book: 254,000 words (5% longer than Desert Spear, and close to 3x the size of your average genre book).

But it’s more clear in the content. Daylight War explores the characters of the Demon Cycle in a new light, adding depth to the world and weight to their actions. If Warded Man was a book about fear and Desert Spear was about opposing cultures struggling to find common ground, Daylight War is, as my editor put it, “a book about relationships”.

And some of them, I think, will surprise you.

The next book in the Demon Cycle series is tentatively titled The Skull Throne. There has been a working file for that book for over a year, with the stepsheet currently at 84 pages, spelling out in great detail the 21 key chapters of the book’s story arc. Doubtless more will be added, but I already have a clear skeleton to start from.

Here’s hoping I can do this one a little… I want to say “faster”, but I don’t think “fast” will ever be a word used to describe me and my writing. How about “less slowly”?

Thank you all for your patience and support over the last few years. It has meant the world to me. I hope to meet a lot of you in person over the coming year.

Monday, September 17, 2012

In the Mail

I came home today to find this in the mail!


Thank you Pan Macmillan!

Naturally I am going to start tonight, everything else I am reading just has to go on the back burner - temporarily.

I'm so excited!

And if you have somehow missed me mentioning this book previously you can find entries here and here.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Lost Stars

Tarnished Knight
Lost Stars #1
By Jack Campbell

The authority of the Syndicate Worlds’ government is crumbling. Civil war and rebellion are breaking out in many star systems despite the Syndic government’s brutal attempts to suppress disorder. Midway is one of those star systems, and leaders there must decide whether to remain loyal to the old order or fight for something new.

CEO Artur Drakon has been betrayed. The Syndic government failed to protect its citizens from both the Alliance and the alien enigmas. With a cadre of loyal soldiers under his command, Drakon launches a battle for control of the Midway Star System—assisted by an ally he’s unsure he can trust…

CEO Gwen Iceni was exiled to Midway because she wasn’t ruthless enough in the eyes of her superiors. She’s made them regret their assessment by commandeering some of the warships at Midway and attacking the remaining ships still loyal to the Syndicate empire. Iceni declares independence for the Midway Star System on behalf of the people while staying in charge as “President.” But while she controls the mobile fleet, she has no choice but to rely on “General” Drakon’s ground forces to keep the peace planet-side…

I don't read a lot of Science Fiction - as you might have guessed by know I am much more an epic fantasy kinda guy - however I have read Jack Campbell's Lost Fleet series, And it's good.

A Space-Opera/Military Science Fiction juggernaut the Lost Fleet series is a tale of two star empires who have been warring for so long neither side can recall why the war started. Into this mix is thrust a man, a legendary hero of early battles thought long dead, who's just been found in suspended animation in an escape capsule that (after one hundred years) was just about to run out of power. Not only does he recall the military traditions, tactics and disciplines now forgotten by a naval starfleet that desperately refills their ever depleting ranks with soldiers just out of training, but he becomes responsible for getting the remnants of the last major fleet of his peoples navy back home when it is trapped - surrounded - by enemy forces in the middle of  said enemies homeworld star system.

Campbell offers an exceedingly readable and fast paced story of politics, human emotion, sacrifice and madness, titanic space battles, duty and honour, and a hint of mystery - this six book series starts here and is well worth a read.

This new series is a spin-off series that runs parallel to The Lost Fleets sequel series The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier (which starts here)and while I am woefully behind on this I am looking forward to grabbing a copy of Tarnished Knight asap!

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Harper Voyager Announces Global Digital Publishing Opportunity  for Debut Authors

NEW YORK, NY - September 12, 2012: In this time of accelerated evolution in the field of digital publishing, the editorial leaders of Harper Voyager in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia are delighted to announce an exciting joint venture that will offer talented aspiring writers the chance to join the global science fiction and fantasy imprint.

For the first time in over a decade, Harper Voyager is offering writers the chance to submit full, unagented manuscripts for a limited two-week period. The publisher is seeking new authors with fresh voices, strong storytelling abilities, original ideas and compelling storylines. Harper Voyager is home to some of the biggest names in science fiction and fantasy, including George R. R. Martin, Kim Harrison, Raymond E. Feist, Robin Hobb, Richard Kadrey, Sara Douglass, Peter V. Brett and Kylie Chan, among others.

The submission portal,, will be open from the 1st to the 14th of October 2012. The manuscripts will then be read and those most suited to the global Harper Voyager list will be selected jointly by editors in the USA, UK and Australia.  Accepted submissions will benefit from the full publishing process: accepted manuscripts will be edited; and the finished titles will receive online marketing and sales support in World English markets.

Voyager will be seeking an array of adult and young adult speculative fiction for digital publication, but particularly novels written in the epic fantasy, science fiction, urban fantasy, horror, dystopia and supernatural genres. Submission guidelines and key information can be found at

The submissions and digital publications are a joint, global effort by Harper Voyager, spearheaded by Deputy Publisher Director Emma Coode in the United Kingdom, Associate Publisher Deonie Fiford in Australia, and Executive Editor Diana Gill in the United States.  The three editors note that: “No other publishing company has done a coordinated submission period for unagented authors across three continents, and all of us at Harper Voyager and at HarperCollins Publishers are absolutely thrilled to be launching this huge opportunity. We look forward to discovering and digitally publishing many new exciting voices globally at Harper Voyager.”

For more information about the publisher, please visit:

Now that's exciting! Unfortunately my manuscript is not in a stae I'd call 'finished' and my current word count is problematical given the submission guidelines... oh well. I'll get there.

Fingers crossed they find something amazing!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mage's Blood

You may recall I posted about this title back in July (it truly doesn't feel that long ago) and it had a different cover.

That cover has been updated.

Mage's Blood
Moontide Quartet #1
By David Hair

The Moontide Bridge is about to open. The world trembles on the brink of cataclysm...

Most of the time the Moontide Bridge lies deep below the sea, but every 12 years the tides sink and the bridge is revealed, its gates open for trade.

The Magi are hell-bent on ruling this new world, and for the last two Moontides they have led armies across the bridge on "crusades" of conquest. Now the third Moontide is almost here and, this time, the people of the East are ready for a fight... but it is three seemingly ordinary people that will decide the fate of the world.

Not bad. I didn't mind the previous cover but thought the orange was a little too similar to Evie Manieri's Blood's Pride. 

Unfortunately I don't have a reading copy to look at so I will have to decide if I actually want to purchase it when it comes out - Pan Macmillan are very difficult to get a hold of. It sounds promising so we shall see.

In the meantime I shall continue with The Red Knight by Miles Cameron. Despite the cover it is awesome!

Oh! And I got my second review up on the Booktopia blog - of course you read it here first but still, it's cool :)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Cloud Atlas

The 2nd trailer.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Rothfuss Plans Ahead

As pointed out by Aidan over on A Dribble of Ink, Patrick Rothfuss has been listed in the September Locus as having sold a new trilogy to DAW.


Quite frankly I never believed he'd complete the tale he began in The Name of The Wind in 3 books - not with all the stuff he wrote about in A Wise Man's Fear and - noticeably  - the things he had to cut. While they only call this  new trilogy I'd be surprised if it was not 'the next part' to the story already in progress.

Sounds good to me. I like Rothfuss' work, and I am very pleased to believe there is more coming.

The Name of the Wind
Kingkiller #1
By Patrick Rothfuss

'I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep. My name is Kvothe. You may have heard of me.'

So begins the tale of Kvothe - currently known as Kote, the unassuming innkeepter - from his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, through his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-riddled city, to his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a difficult and dangerous school of magic. In these pages you will come to know Kvothe the notorious magician, the accomplished thief, the masterful musician, the dragon-slayer, the legend-hunter, the lover, the thief and the infamous assassin.

A Wise Man's Fear
Kingkiller #2
By Patrick Rothfuss

Picking up the tale of Kvothe Kingkiller once again, we follow him into exile, into political intrigue, courtship, adventure, love and magic and further along the path that has turned Kvothe, the mightiest magician of his age, a legend in his own time, into Kote, the unassuming pub landlord.

Packed with as much magic, adventure and home-grown drama as THE NAME OF THE WIND, this is a sequel in every way the equal to its predecessor and a must-read for all fantasy fans. Readable, engaging and gripping THE WISE MAN'S FEAR is the biggest and the best new fantasy novel out there.

Friday, September 7, 2012

End Game

As Raymond E. Feist gets closer to Magician's End and says farewell to Midkemia and Pug et al HarperVoyager are updating the cover of Magician the book that started it all and one of my absolute faves.

Riftwar #1
By Raymond E. Feist

And his back catalogue will at last be available in ebook format. Hopefully that will include the Empire trilogy he wrote with Janny Wurts, I am dying to have that on ebook.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Saga of the Exiles

I cannot tell you how many times I fielded enquiries about these books over the years I was working at Galaxy.

Next January Tor UK are bring them back into print with brand new covers, and into eBook for the first time.

Looks like I might get to give them a go and see what all the fuss is about at last!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Richard Morgan - excerpt

Richard Morgan, not a new writer but a fairly new - and awesome - voice still in epic fantasy has put up an excerpt of his WiP on his blog.

Visitation Rites

He felt the change as soon as he stepped over the threshold of the croft.  It came on like icy water, sprinkling across the nape of his neck and his shoulders.

He tilted his head a little to send the feeling away, traced a warding glyph in the air, like taking down a volume from a library shelf.  Around him, the croft walls grew back to an enclosing height they likely hadn’t seen in decades.  The boiling grey sky blacked out, replaced with damp smelling thatch overhead.  A dull, reddish glow reached out to him from the hearth.  Peat smoke stung his throat.  He heard the hoarse whistle of breathing, the creak of……

A worn oak rocking chair, angled at the fireside, tilting gently back and forth.  From where he stood, Ringil could not tell what was seated there, only that it was wrapped in a dark cloak and cowl.

The ward he’d chosen was burning down around him like some torched peasant’s hut.  He felt the fresh exposure shiver through him.  Reached for something stronger, cracked finger-bones etching it into the air.

“Yes – becoming quite adept at that, aren’t we.”  It was a voice that creaked like the chair.  Wheeze and rustle of seeming age, or maybe just the breathlessness at the end of laughing too hard at something.  “Quite the master of the ikinri ‘ska these days.”

His fresh ward shattered apart, no better than the first – the chill of the Presence rushed in on him.  The rocking chair jerked violently around, from no agency he could see.  The thing it held was a corpse.  The shrunken mounds it made within the wrap of the cloak were unmistakeable, the way it skewed awkwardly in the seat, as if blown there by the wind.  The cowl was tipped forward like the muzzle of some huge dark worm, shrouding the face.  One ivory-pallid hand gripped an armrest, flesh shrunk back from long, curving nails.  The other arm lay in the thing’s lap, was covered by the way the cloak folded there.

Even as the chill blew through him, something about that fact was scratching for attention at the limen of his being.

His hand leapt up, across, closed on the hilt of the Ravensfriend where it jutted over his left shoulder.

“Oh, please,” creaked the voice.  “Put that away, why don’t you.  If I can break your wards like sticks for kindling, how hard do you think it’s going to be for me to break that dinky little sword of yours as well?  You know, for an up-and-coming sorcerer, you show remarkably little breadth of response.”

Ringil let go the Ravensfriend, felt the pommel slip through his hands as the Kiriath-engineered scabbard sucked the handsbreadth of exposed blade back into itself.  He eyed the slumped form before him and held down the repeated urge to shiver.

“Who are you?”

“And still he does not know me.”  Abruptly, the corpse loomed to its feet, out of the chair as if tugged there by puppet’s strings.  Ringil found himself face to face with the worm’s head cowl and the blank darkness it framed.  He made himself stare back, but if there was a face in there, dead or alive, it didn’t show.  The whispering voice seemed to come from everywhere at once, down from the eaves of the thatch, out of the crackle of the hearth, out of the air just behind his ear.  “You did not know me at Trelayne’s Eastern Gate, when your destiny was laid out in terms you could understand; you did not know me at the river when the first of the cold legion gathered to you, and your passage to the dark gate began.  I sent a whole shipload of corpses for you when you were finally ready.  So tell me, Ringil Eskiath – how many times must I look out at you through the eyes of the dead before I am given my due?”

It fell in on him like the thatched roof coming down on his head.  The cloak and cowl, the stylised placement of hands, one raised to the arm of the chair, the other gathered in the lap, holding-


“Oh, well done.”  The corpse turned and shuffled away from him, back towards the hearth.  “Took you long enough, didn’t it?  Wouldn’t have thought it’d be so hard to recognise the Queen of the Dark Court when she comes calling.  We are your ancestral gods, are we not?”

“Not by my choice,” he said starkly.

Read the rest here.

And check out book 2 in ,ass market paperback in October:

The Cold Commands
Land Fit for Heroes #2
By Richard Morgan

Fantasy: harder, faster, bloodier. The king of noir SF takes on Fantasy.

Ringil Eskiath, scarred wielder of the kiriath-forged broadsword Ravensfriend, is a man on the run - from his past and the family who have disowned him, from the slave trade magnates of Trelayne who want him dead and apparently from the dark gods themselves, who are taking an interest but making no more sense than they ever have.

Outlawed and exiled from his ancestral home in the north, Ringil has only one place left to turn - Yhelteth, city heart of the southern Empire, where perhaps he can seek asylum with the kiriath half-breed Archeth, former war comrade and now high-up advisor to the Emperor Jhiral Khimran II. But Archeth has problems of her own to contend with, as does her house guest, bodyguard and one time steppe nomad Egar the Dragonbane. And far from gaining the respite he seeks, Ringil will instead find himself implicated in fresh schemes and doubtful allegiances no safer than those he has left behind.

Old enemies are stirring, the old order is rotted through and crumbling and though no-one yet knows it, the city of Yhelteth is about to explode...

The Hugo Awards

And congratulations goes to:

Best Novel: Among Others by Jo Walton (Tor)

Best Novella: "The Man Who Bridged the Mist" by Kij Johnson (Asimov's, September/October 2011)

Best Novelette: "Six Months, Three Days" by Charlie Jane Anders (

Best Short Story: "The Paper Menagerie" by Ken Liu (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, March/April 2011)

Best Related Work: The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Third Edition edited by John Clute, David Langford, Peter Nicholls, and Graham Sleight (Gollancz)

Best Graphic Story: Digger by Ursula Vernon (Sofawolf Press)

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form): Game of Thrones (Season 1) (HBO)

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form): "The Doctor's Wife" (Doctor Who) (BBC Wales)

Best Editor (Short Form): Sheila Williams

Best Professional Artist: John Picacio

Best Semiprozine: Locus, edited by Liza Groen Trombi, Kirsten Gong-Wong, et al.

Best Fanzine: SF Signal, edited by John DeNardo

Best Fan Writer: Jim C. Hines

Best Fan Artist: Maurine Starkey

Best Fancast: SF Squeecast, Lynne M. Thomas, Seanan McGuire, Paul Cornell, Elizabeth Bear, and Catherynne M. Valente

The John W. Campbell Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2010 or 2011: E. Lily Yu

And a HUGE congratulations to the woman who has published many of my favorite authors:

Best Editor (Long Form): Betsy Wollheim

Monday, September 3, 2012

Step by step

I spent the weekend going over the last two chapters I had worked on last weekend. It seems I had forgotten a rather large thing I had meant to change (I really must go over my notes before I start writing) - so I had to go back and change it.

I am now facing two or three coming chapters where I need to at last introduce the two characters I removed from the first half of the story. So potentially I will be adding some of the words I had removed back into the draft. Actually there is no 'potentially' about it, I am going to have to.

But I don't think it will be to bad - although writing the new stuff will be a 'joy' - it's not that I can't write it, it's just how many times I am going to have to go over it to make it 'work'.

In the meantime I have received from Gollancz an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) of Miles Cameron's debt novel The Red Knight - which you may recall I spoke of here.

Well I still stick to my guns about their choice of cover, but on this at least they have worked the blurb to match Orbits, and all of that aside I am really enjoying it.


I love finding new author's who's next book is already going onto my 'To Read' list before I've finished their first one.

I will say however that the comparison to Martin they have on the back (George R. R. Martin) doesn't really work for me. I understand why they use it but to do the book justice you need to be truer to the feel of the narrative and the world building - if I was selling it in store I'd be looking at fans of Mark Lawrence and Joe Abercrombie rather than Martin - although I wouldn't steer them away from it. And maybe a dash of Scott Lynch as well.

More to come when I am finished.

The Red Knight
Traitors Son #1
By Miles Cameron

Twenty eight florins a month is a huge price to pay, for a man to stand between you and the Wild.

Twenty eight florins a month is nowhere near enough when a wyvern's jaws snap shut on your helmet in the hot stink of battle, and the beast starts to rip the head from your shoulders. But if standing and fighting is hard, leading a company of men - or worse, a company of mercenaries - against the smart, deadly creatures of the Wild is even harder.

It takes all the advantages of birth, training, and the luck of the devil to do it.

The Red Knight has all three, he has youth on his side, and he's determined to turn a profit. So when he hires his company out to protect an Abbess and her nunnery, it's just another job. The abby is rich, the nuns are pretty and the monster preying on them is nothing he can't deal with.

Only it's not just a job. It's going to be a war. . .

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Tad Williams and Booktopia's 10 Terrifying Questions

The Dirty Streets of Heaven
Bobby Dollar #1
By Tad Williams


Sure, he takes the occasional trip to Heaven, but his job as an advocate - arguing the fate of the recently deceased - keeps him pretty busy on Earth, and he's more than happy to spend the rest of his time propping up the bar with his fellow immortals. Until the day a soul goes missing, presumed stolen by 'the other side'. A new chapter in the war between heaven and hell is about to open. And Bobby is right in the middle of it, with only a desirable but deadly demon to aid him.

And for my 3rd interview on behalf of Booktopia, I subjected Tad Williams to our 10 Terrifying Questions!

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself - where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I grew up in Palo Alto, California, the college town for Stanford University and one a birthplace of modern technology.  But when I grew up, it was a little slower, less money-oriented, and I grew up with the idea that it was more important to do something I liked with my life than to make money.  (Not that money was bad, just that it was a tool, not an important thing in and of itself.)

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

When I was twelve I was losing interest in being an archaeologist and beginning to think I'd be a comic book artist for Marvel.  By eighteen I had transitioned pretty thoroughly into my "rock star" prep years.  By the time I was thirty, I'd realized that writing was going to be a better long-term plan, especially since you didn't have to work with drummers.  But although I worked in suit-and-tie jobs for years, the idea I might do that as a career was poison.  I grew up in the '60s, remember.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

That when I felt like I was right about something, I WAS right, that I actually had objective memory of things.  And that my personal tastes in music and art were something other than subjective, and that failing to rise to my tastes was an indicator of failure on the part of others.  I'm much less certain of things now, and I like it better.

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

I was one of those people who fell in love with Tolkien early.  I read THE LORD OF THE RINGS first when I was eleven or so.  I think it was the idea of created worlds and imaginary history that grabbed me.  I was also very influenced by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee's early Marvel comics and by Dickens.  And later, GRAVITY'S RAINBOW knocked my socks off and made me want to be a grown-up writer.

Art, theater and music are a whole different set of influences.  JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS, THE TIN DRUM, and PERFORMANCE all got into my brain, just for instance.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

At the time, I was beginning to think about artistic projects I could do on my own, in my own (free) time, since I was working a couple of jobs and scheduling was an issue for things like music and theater.  I was living with cats for the first time, so I took that amusement/astonishment and my interest in worldbuilding and came up with my first novel, TAILCHASER'S SONG.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

THE DIRTY STREETS OF HEAVEN is the first of a series of angel noir novels about Doloriel, aka Bobby Dollar, an earthbound angel.  Bobby tells the story first person, and so it combines my love of crazy situations, monsters, complex worlds, and aggressive fictionalizing, and adds lots of (dark) jokes and a faster pace to my usual suspects.

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

My ideal trifecta is: first, entertained; second, surprised; third, ideas and questions creeping up long afterward.  I love genre fiction because I like the tradition and the formality -- if you write a mystery, you'd better solve it in a way that makes sense and that the reader thinks is fair -- but also that you can be as artistic as you want if you also keep the readers' interest.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

I remain fascinated by Pynchon's fractalism, by Dickens sweep of character and event (and humor), by Hunter S. Thompson and James Thurber and Barbara Tuchman and Michael Moorcock and many others, and the joy that is sharing a smart person's mind for a while.  I've lived thousands of lives by being a reader, and if I can add to that for some others, that's a pretty cool legacy and a pretty good job.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

To get better every book.  To keep challenging myself.  To have people quiver before me and nudge each other and whisper, "He's a writer, you know."  And to spread my evil legacy through many other kinds of stories -- film, television, games, stage plays, and souvenir commemorative plates.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Write and read.  Read and write.  Don't just read the kind of stuff you're writing -- in fact, make that a small percentage of your day-to-day experience.  Read broadly.  Also, write regularly.  Don't waste energy talking about it until it's done.  Be real about the characters and situations you invent.  And finish things.