Bloodheir

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Well, yes. Three weeks since the last post, and even longer since the rest of the site got refreshed (the links page is in need of some serious housekeeping, for instance) and I’m sure … well, I guess maybe there’s someone somewhere who noticed, and maybe cared just a little bit.

But there is a reason – aka an excuse. (Aside from me being busy writing and stuff, obviously, which is my standard justification for anything and everything I don’t do). Significant changes are in the pipeline for brianruckley.com, so I figured I’d hold off until v2.0 emerges. So it’s good news, really: a brand spanking new brianruckley.com is en route! But the pipeline in which it currently resides has been of slightly indeterminate length, hence the drop-off in activity while those involved awaited a measuring tape. I can now report that the end of said pipe is within sight and my virtual facelift will occur in the not too distant future (which is still not exactly a precise prediction, I know, but we’re talking weeks rather than months, assuming no disastrous interventions by the gods of chance).

So things will remain subdued around these parts until then.

In the meantime, look: pretty picture. Specifically, the cover to the recently released Czech edition of Bloodheir (thanks to Martin for sending me the image).

Seeing Red

The mass market paperback editions of Bloodheir are released in the UK and US around the end of this month. The US version has just fallen into my grubby little hands, and I can’t resist doing a little public admiration of it. Behold how (a) red and (b) cool it is:


Looks particularly fine alongside the equivalent edition of Winterbirth, I think. Also raises the obvious question of what variation can we expect when the time comes to give Fall of Thanes its paperback clothes? Blue? Grey? Pink? No idea, in fact, but I’m looking forward to finding out (so long as it’s not pink). Setting aside the question of whether the text inside the covers is any good or not, there can’t be much doubt that the covers themselves for this series have been great eye candy. Score one (or three, I suppose, since it’s a trilogy) for Orbit.

For those who have not seen it yet, here is the cover for Fall of Thanes, in all its beardy and mail-clad glory:


Nice, no? And to answer the single commonest question I get asked these days: the planned publication date for Fall of Thanes is May 2009. It may vary slightly depending on exactly which bit of the planet you call home, but as things currently stand we seem to be on schedule, so it should be in that ballpark for everyone.

And while we’re on the subject of books, the hardback of Bloodheir more or less sold out in the UK in a gratifyingly short period (for which many thanks to all those who bought a copy!). That’s good, obviously, but it has meant that for a while now the book’s not been universally available in these here parts, and those who didn’t snap up the hardback early on might have been feeling a bit left out. Change is afoot, however, as trade paperbacks have now been released in the UK, so Bloodheir is once more available from Amazon UK, and should filter into bookshops nicely in time for Chrsitmas. Should you happen to know anyone who’s been hankering after a copy, do let them know – the mass market paperback’s still 4 or 5 months away, after all.

There has been some minor tweaking and polishing of the website, these last few days – so minor, in the main, that no one but me and the webguy is ever likely to notice the differences. One thing I’d quite like people to notice, though, is the addition of a couple of new links on the relevant page. I’ve mentioned both the websites concerned in this blog before, but will take any opportunity to try and drive a few more eyes their way, so:

Strange Maps is a long-running demonstration of the wisdom of picking a single, original theme for a blog and sticking with it. You never know quite what’s going to show up, but it’ll often be surprising, interesting and/or pretty to look at it. Especially if you like maps, naturally.

The Abominable Charles Christopher is by some distance my favourite webcomic at the moment – has been for a long time, in fact. Not surely precisely why, but I think it’s some combination of: beautifully precise and expressive art, joke strips that I find gently amusing, an over-arching story arc that’s dark and mysterious (possibly a bit too mysterious to be honest, since I’m not sure anyone’s really figured out exactly what’s going on), and Karl Kerschl’s obvious affection for the characters he’s created.

Easing my way back into the blogging rhythm here, with a bit of a warm-up post just to note a nice review of Bloodheir over at a fine Romanian sf/f blog: Dark Wolf’s Fantasy Reviews.

Just to add, further to last post about the Facebook giveaway: I should perhaps mention, for those who don’t already know, that if you’re not on Facebook, but still have a craving for a signed, dedicated etc. copy of the Bloodheir hardback, you can get one (but I’m afraid you’ll have to pay for it). I can sign, inscribe or otherwise vandalise as instructed any copies ordered from Transreal Fiction in Edinburgh before they’re shipped out to you. It costs cover price plus post and packing. Not as good as a free competition, I know, but a good deal more certain in outcome and it doesn’t require you to join one of those pesky social networks if you’re allergic to them …

Post title kind of says it all. Further details are here, but it all boils down to this: each week in June, everyone who’s signed up as a Fan on Winterbirth‘s page on Facebook gets entered into a draw to win a signed, dedicated or otherwise personalised copy of Bloodheir. Sounds like a bargain to me. (And there’s not exactly a gigantic army of fans on there at the time of writing, so if you go join up now you’re in with a fighting chance. Not that we’re actually going to make the fans fight each other, obviously. Though that might be worth bearing in mind for future competitions …).

There’s a review of Bloodheir up at the Grasping for The Wind blog that’s nice in all kinds of ways. I mention it here, though, mainly because I think it’s the first time I’ve seen anyone specifically praise the way I write about love. I’m a big softie, really. It’s a relief when something you’ve tried quite hard to get right has precisely the desired effect on the reader, even if it’s only one reader.

(I’m similarly relieved, incidentally, whenever someone describes my battle scenes as ‘cinematic’ – which one or two folk have done – because believe me, pretty much from draft 1, page 1 of Winterbirth, whenever I’m writing violence I’ve been sitting there hunched over the keyboard all but muttering ‘make it cinematic, make it cinematic’, like some drooling, lunatic hermit who used to be a failed screenwriter and has gone downhill from there.)

In case anyone likes to know these things, the title for book three was agreed a little while ago, and it is: Fall of Thanes. No, it’s not quite finished yet; Yes, it will be finished before too long. And yes, one or more Thanes may indeed fall, but Who? How far? And will they bounce?

And a Bloodheir Extract. Here.

A MeTube

There’s a video of me reading from Bloodheir at the Alt.Fiction event up on YouTube. I’m not, though, going to embed it here, for two reasons:

1. Like most people, I dwell in a happy little fantasy world in which I sound and appear to everyone else exactly as I sound and appear to myself within the confines of my own skull. This pleasant illusory state of mind is directly (and cruelly) contradicted every time I hear my voice as it is heard by others, and having a permanent reminder of the glaring discrepancy staring out at me from my own blog would be just too masochistic. In this case, I choose to preserve my feeble illusions, thank you very much.

2. More importantly (as if anything could actually be more important than preserving my precious self-image!) the reading contains what might well be considered SPOILERS for not entirely insignificant plot developments in Bloodheir, so a little bit of distance is probably a good thing for those who might want to consider whether they really want to watch it. If you prefer your reading experience to be entirely unsullied by advance knowledge of what’s coming up, proceed no further. You Have Been Warned.

For those undeterred by these two caveats, here’s the link. You will have to excuse my not exactly masterful reading technique; first time out, and all that. If I get to repeat the exercise at some point in the future, I’ll try to do a bit better. There are plenty of clips of other authors showing how it should be done elsewhere on the Orbit Books YouTube channel.

Just to say …

… for those thousands (dozens? couple?) of folk who might have been worrying my recent lack of posting indicated some cataclysmic silence-imposing development, such as my kidnapping by the aliens recently revealed to be swarming the UK’s skies, the good news is it’s only because I’ve been busy, and keeping a low internet profile. It’s actually quite refreshing to do a bit of internet detox now and again: I’ve been pretty much restricting my attention to e-mails and whatever my feed subscriptions harvest from the virtual ocean, and it turns out that’s plenty to keep me feeling vaguely in touch with the 21st century. Probably means I’ve missed all types of excitements, fascinating chance discoveries, flamewars, announcements of earth-shattering importance etc. etc. Still, since I don’t know about them, I can’t regret missing them, can I? Ignorance is bliss.

Slightly more substantive posts should follow before too long, but in the meantime:

The succession of Steven Moffat as showrunner for Doctor Who is awesomely good news. I’ve actually been a bit remiss in keeping up with the current series – I’ve mostly liked what I’ve seen of it without being hugely engaged – but am now much more interested in what Mr. Moffatt may come up with in years to come. His latest Who episodes, pretty much certain to be leading candidates for the best in the series based on past form, hit the airwaves on 31st May and the week after.

Want to know if your ancestors were criminals? Maybe it’s just me, but I think it’s extremely cool that documents detailing something like 200,000 criminal cases tried at the Old Bailey between 1674 and 1913 are freely and easily available online. Plug in your family name (or any other keyword you want to give a run out) and start wandering through the lives of the guilty and the innocent from centuries past. There’s loads of fascinating stuff in there. Could be a great resource for writers of historical fiction, alternate history, Victoriana, steampunk, whatever …

And finally, turns out there’s a Kindle edition of Bloodheir. See? I can pretty much tell just by looking at photos of the thing that the Kindle isn’t the breakthrough device as far as my personal aversion to reading fiction on-screen is concerned, but there’s no doubt Amazon’s proactive involvement in the whole e-book adventure has livened things up a good deal. And the Kindle reader itself, despite looking over-priced to me, is still No. 1 in Amazon’s own electronics sales chart, so what do I know? If anyone does buy the Kindle version of the book, let me know how the experience goes, would you?

My trusty test reader enjoys a quiet moment with the finished Bloodheir. He’s smiling, so presumably happy, even though the only reference to bears occurs on page 161 and involves poking a sleeping one with a stick. Not much to engage the ursine reader, you’d think. Still, it’s probably an improvement on Winterbirth, in which the main bear involvement was getting wheeled around in a cage and shot full of crossbow bolts. Contrary to appearances, I have nothing against bears.

Big box of hardbacks and the UK trade paperback turned up on my doorstep last week. One of those moments that I suspect never quite loses its appeal, no matter how well-established and megastarish an author becomes. Orbit have done a lovely job with the book, methinks. It’s a very fine package. Seeing the cover art up close and in situ it’s striking what a fine piece of work it is. Given that my artistic skills are on the wrong side of non-existent, this kind of thing leaves me not a little impressed. And jealous. The illustration is by Gene Mollica, much more of whose diverse work can be admired here.

There’s a Bloodheir review up at Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist. It contains the succint and pretty accurate line: ‘Aeglyss is a complete basket case.’ Yep. Can’t really disagree with that. The guy’s got issues, you know.

And I’ll just insert the customary reminder here that anyone who wants to buy a signed copy of Bloodheir can do so via Transreal Fiction. It’ll cost you the cover price plus post and packing. Dedications, inscriptions and so on can also be included, but not, sadly, any cute little drawings, as my artistic skills … well, see above.

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