Brian Ruckley's News & Views

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Paperbacks, a Feast and a Big Fish

The UK paperback of Winterbirth has definitely been released into the wild. I know this because I have seen it there with my own eyes, looking all pale and pristine and appealing on the bookshop shelves. (And because Amazon is uttering those delightful words 'In Stock'.)

In other news, Reader's Paradise bookshop in Cape Town is running a Fantasy Feast for the next couple of months. They've managed to assemble signed bookplates from a whole heap of authors - me included, along with a lot of rather more high profile folk like Tad Williams, Neil Gaiman and Charles Stross (it's an sf feast too, see) - so there's a veritable mountain of signed books available, along with various other goodies. It looks like a great event (and a great shop), so now anyone who's in Cape Town in August or September knows where to go ...

And here's a link to a photo that illustrates very clearly why I won't be going swimming in the Mekong River this lifetime.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

PW hugs Winterbirth

Apparently, getting a starred review in Publishers Weekly is what is known as 'A Good Thing'. Pleased, therefore, to say that Winterbirth has got one, about two-thirds of the way down this page.

It talks about the 'unapologetically stark yet darkly poetic narrative' and seems to predict a 'fervent audience', which sounds slightly alarming if you ask me, but I imagine I could live with it should such a thing come to pass.

Also, if anyone feels like they have an unrecognised talent for interrogation, there's an invitation to submit questions for an interview with me here - don't seem to able to link directly to the specific post, but it shouldn't be too hard to find, since it's got a great big picture of the Winterbirth cover.

EDIT: Things change fast in internetland - I can now link to the specific post about interview questions so here it is.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Creature Feature

On Arthur's Seat, much the biggest of the several hills that dominate Edinburgh, early on a still June evening, something that seems to have nothing to do with us and our cities:

Seeing stuff like this make me happy, in a small and quiet kind of way. I'm a wildlife nerd.


Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Dark is Stinking. Possibly.

Me Not Happy. Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising sequence was one of my best reading experiences as a child. Great story, tinged with loss and an unsettling sense of another world impinging on this one. The prospect of a big budget movie based on the same was a pleasing one. Now the trailer's out, and I am no longer pleased.

I know a brief trailer is not really a safe basis on which to start judging a whole film, but what the hell: they're trampling all over the garden of my childhood here, so I'm going to do it anyway.

So let's see. They've taken stories that were wholly and crucially concerned with the landscape, myths and folktales of Britain ... and set the thing in the US. The books depend for much of their cumulative atmospheric power on those intimate connections with a specific land and culture, but hey, it's the box office that counts. And apparently the ancient, insidious and often rather subtle magic that runs through the books appears to have been at least partially replaced with the kind of magic that turns your young hero into some kind of telekinetic, pyrokinetic, super-strength X-men reject.

Until someone tells me otherwise I'm going to jump to (and stick to) the conclusion that what they've done here is unceremoniously hollow out one of the central works in the last 50 years of British children's fantasy writing, stuff it with the entangled entrails of Night Watch, Tomb Raider and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and clumsily stitch the wound up again. All the while assuming that if they can get enough of the Eragon/Narnia crowd in through the cinema doors, no one will notice or care that they have discarded everything that made the original distinctive and potent. Bah humbug.


Wednesday, July 04, 2007


More bookskins. The German edition of Winterbirth is due out some time around November. I'm guessing, since there looks to be a line of figures winding its way between the pointy mountains, that this is an image of the Vale of Stones, through which first refugees and then armies march in the book. The trilogy's got the overall title of 'Die Welt aus Blut und Eis' (The World of Blood and Ice) in German, which sounds suitably dramatic. Wagnerian, even?

And the final version of the cover that's going to be used in the US and on the UK paperback (released in September and August respectively) has emerged, slightly different from - and I think ever so slightly improved on - the one I posted a while back.

I've liked, in one way or another, all the covers I've seen applied to Winterbirth so far. No doubt some of them will work better than others in drawing attention to the book (and selling it, which is my favourite part of the process obviously), but I don't really feel able to judge that (yet - I wonder if publishers dread the moment when authors start to develop and voice strong opinions about things like cover art?). What I can say is I'm a big fan of the UK paperback cover, which is the only one I've seen a hard copy of. It's got a nice cold, gritty vibe going on. Plus, although you can't tell it from this image, the word 'Winterbirth' is embossed and has a bit of a metallic sheen to it. To be embossed is good; to be embossed and shiny is doubly good. You see how easy authors (well, this author at least) are to please?

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