Second, I do the fantasy casting for the movie-of-the-book thang at My Book the Movie. Not something I actually gave any thought to while writing the Godless World, but I think some of the casting possibilities I came up with are quite promising. And - I only realised after I'd finished - it's shaping up to be an all-Brit cast, which either means I'm terribly parochial or that we've got all the best actors. I incline towards the latter possibility.
Third, someone else does the review thing for the small press anthology Rage of the Behemoth I've got a story in, over at The Cimmerian. A fitting home for a review, given the anthology's focus on heroic fantasy of the sort Robert E Howard excelled at. Nice, too, that the book gets the thumbs up. I've been gradually working my way through my author's copy, and can confirm there's some fun stuff in there for fans of this kind of thing (i.e. warriors, monsters and mayhem). Copies still easily available for purchase in both the UK and the US.
Some minor stuff about me, me, me - specifically my recent adventures in short fiction - that's shown up on the web.
First off, I answer some questions over at the Rogue Blades Entertainment site, partly relating to the story - 'Beyond the Reach of His Gods' - I've contributed to their Rage of the Behemoth anthology. Imminently available, I believe.
Second off, Pat of Fantasy Hotlist fame provided a brief update on progress regarding the anthology he's editing for Subterranean Press, titled Speculative Horizons. As reported there, I sent in my story for the anthology - 'Flint' - a little while ago. Some minor tweaking is currently underway, but Pat's basically given it a thumbs up. No confirmed publication date for this one yet, as far as I know, but it shouldn't be too long.
(And since I've been poking around Pat's site to find that news update, I might as well indulge myself by pointing out his jolly nice review of Fall of Thanes, too.)
Item 2: According to this review of Fall of Thanes, it appears I might have made someone cry. Good. I mean that in the nicest possible way, obviously.
Item 3: I did an interview at a slightly more unusual venue than my usual online habitat of sf/f book blogs: Grinding to Valhalla, which as far as I can tell is a sort of mass interview site for mmo bloggers/podcasters. As a result, there's a little bit more in there about my gaming habits/history than is usually the case.
Item 4: And finally ... well I'm not really sure what to say about this (found via CBR), other than that I am at once strangely fascinated and strangely repelled:
A whole load of other interesting people have also been interviewed there- at least I know some of them are usually interesting; whether they're interesting or not in this particular case, I can't be sure, since I don't read Dutch. Heck, I can't even be sure I was interesting, but there I am, chatting merrily away in a foreign language.
And in case anyone missed it in the comments on the previous post, first review has showed up for the previously mentioned Rage of the Behemoth anthology, over at the jolly good Grasping for the Wind blog. Modesty prevents me from pointing out which of the stories gets the biggest thumbs up. No, really. It does. Big bully, that modesty stuff.
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?
In honour of the release of Winterbirth as a US mass market paperback, I have been interviewed over at mania.com. There's also a review up over there, which is generous enough in its praise to make me blush (you can't see me, but I'm blushing. Really).
Seems a bit self-indulgent to take up blog space just for that (I know, someone with a blog suddenly starts worrying about being self-indulgent. Imagine that. Next up: a politician admitting they have no clue whatsoever how to solve a problem). Anyway, since I'm here, a handful of other webby things:
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.
The Book Swede seems to have broken the review ice for Bloodheir. Fortunately, he's broken it with a largely positive axe, or whatever you break ice with. If you see what I mean. A friendly ice pick? Oh, never mind.
Today started badly. Man in truck reversed into the front of my car, destroying number plate, breaking bumper and inserting tow hook so decisively into the wreckage that the two vehicles were as firmly attached as a pair of mating dogs. Much fiddling about with a jack, splintering of plastic and general struggling later, and they were finally parted. Sucks as a curtain-raiser to a new day, and on the whole it set the pattern for much of what was to follow.
There was one glimmer of sunshine, though, since on my return from the scene of the truck v. car strife, oily-handed and irritated, I found an e-mail tipping me off to the existence of kind words about Winterbirth, uttered by a notably talented author. Jeff Vandermeer, in his Best Sf/f of 2007 report for Locus, says 'Winterbirth is the debut of a formidable fantasist, capable of writing complex and often fascinating heroic fantasy.' Very nice, and all the sweeter for coming from someone who has written remarkable books: City of Saints and Madmen and Shriek are distinctive, strange and fascinating concoctions that linger in the mind long after you've finished reading them.
Ah, life's rich tapestry. It'd be nice to dispense with the downs and only have the ups, but I guess that would asking a bit too much.
A quick round-up post, just to demonstrate that normal service has been resumed following the brief digression that was that Blog Action Day thingy.
First, a nice review of Winterbirth at the book review site that has the name all other bookbloggers probably wish they'd thought of first: Bookgasm.
Second, I feel vindicated. I knew the movie of The Dark is Rising was going to be a turkey as soon as I saw the trailer (here's the proof of my grumpy prescience), and the BBC's film critic of choice, Mark Kermode, has confirmed my suspicions. He can be heard dissing the film, along with several others, in the podcast here (it'll be harder to find after the next few days but probably still there somewhere). For what it's worth, I'll second the nice things he says about Once: a sweet little film with good music.
Fourthly, I'm still fumbling about on Facebook, trying to figure out what all the bells and whistles do (and whether there's any point to the damn things). So here's a Profile Badge I made earlier. Meh. But hey, at least now I know what a Profile Badge looks like.
Blogger Playis a website that consists entirely of a slideshow of photos people have recently put up on their blogs. Clicking on any photo takes you straight to the relevant blog post. It's completely pointless, but an interesting way of going on a random walk through the world's blogs for a few minutes.
After many delays, including last-minute printing palavers, Black Staticmagazine has finally made it off the starting blocks. I've not seen the first issue yet, but I confidently predict it'll be worth checking out for those who like their fiction dark and unsettling. It's the successor to what I thought was the most interesting UK short fiction mag of the 1990s, The Third Alternative, so it ought to be good.
There's a bit of a mini-eruption of Winterbirth reviews around the interwebs at the moment, a couple of which have caught my eye for one reason or another.
I particularly like this one, because it says about the battle scenes: 'if Braveheart was put into writing, I think it would be something like this'. I like that partly because I was consciously trying for a vaguely cinematic, vivid feeling in the action scenes, and it's nice to see it working for at least one reader. Secondly, I loved the battles in Braveheart: at the time, I thought they were the most exciting and convincingly vicious imitation of medieval combat I'd ever seen in the cinema. Not sure they've been surpassed even now.
The other review I found particularly interesting is this one. It's brief and very positive, but what surprised me about it is that it's been put out by the Associated Press news agency. I, in my ignorance, hadn't even registered that organisations like AP or Reuters put out reviews like this - I guess I assumed they just did news items. Anyway, will be interested to see if the review turns up anywhere else now it's gone out on the AP 'wire' or whatever it is that happens to such things ...
It never occurred to me, when idly dreaming of one day being a writer, that it would entail answering questions about haggis and Edinburgh pubs. Funny how things turn out.
Mister Roy, the very same marketing professional I mentioned in the last post, has been talking about Winterbirth again, only this time it's a plain old reviewrather than a dissection of the 'to buy or not to buy' decision-making process.
The rather fine Fantasy Book Critic blog also has a review of Winterbirthup. Earth-crumblingly important and fascinating as that is, even I'm prepared to admit that another item on the blog might be of even more interest: an outrageously generous book giveawaywhere you (so long as you're a North American resident) can win no less than six books from the Orbit US launch line-up.
At the very end, there's a plea for someone to get out the thumbscrews and extract an answer from me to a particular question. In an effort to cut out the middleman, and because one or two other people have been curious about the same subject, I thought I'd short-circuit the system a bit and do a quick interview with myself. So here we go ... Oh, this will make basically no sense whatsoever to anyone who hasn't read Winterbirth, by the way. Sorry.
Q: Is there going to be any more information on the Anain, Saolin or Whreinin?
A: Well I don't want to stray into spoilerish territory. The safest thing to say would be that a little more info on all the races can be found in the Gazetteer on this very site, and more is likely to appear there eventually.
Q: 'Little' is a very accurate description of what's currently in the Gazetteer. You can surely be a bit more revealing than that?
A: Okay, okay. First off, the Whreinin are extinct, so the chances of them taking an active role in this trilogy are ... slim. They may get talked about now and again, though. For those interested in the archaeology of the writing process, back in the mists of time there did once exist a draft of Winterbirth, and a notional outline of the next two books, in which there was considerably more stuff about the Whreinin floating around. It didn't survive the slaughter that is revising and rewriting.
As far as the Anain are concerned, the short answer is yes, there's more to come on the subject of the Anain in both Bloodheir and Book 3. The focus stays on humans and Kyrinin, but the Anain won't be staying entirely passive. What part they play, I obviously can't tell you or I'd have to kill you.
Q: That's slightly more illuminating, I suppose. Still seems a little coy as answers go. You haven't even mentioned the Saolin, for example. Couldn't you ... Hello? Hello? Oh, our interviewee seems to have gone off to boil the kettle. I guess that's the end of the interview.
Item the First. Although I've not had official confirmation, I think this is the cover to the Russian edition of Winterbirth. Now Russian sf/f book covers are famously ... what's the word ... different, and this one is no exception (I have no clue who those figures are), but I consider it a badge of honour and a pleasure to get one of these to my name. I get a little, always vaguely disbelieving, thrill from each of the translation deals done for the book, and there's something faintly exotic and surreal about the idea of it being on sale in places like Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Item the Second. Here's two Winterbirth reviews for the price of one (well, maybe one and a half for the price of one): the proprietor of Gav's Studio did a review and then went back a couple of days later to add to it. Interesting to see someone reflecting on a review and revisiting it - not something you see very often in the blogosphere.
Item the Third. Edinburgh has now entered the month or so of collective weirdness that is Festival season. I'll write about this more here soon, since it'd probably be some kind of dereliction of duty for an Edinburgh inhabitant with a blog not to at least note that their city has gone thoroughly mad around them, but for now just thought I'd note that Transreal Fiction, Edinburgh's sf/f bookshop, is hosting a Bestiary of Authors: an exhibition of informal photos of genre authors. For those who can't go along and see the real thing, a selection of the images can be viewed online here.
Item the Fourth. Decades of commercial, industrialised whaling failed to achieve it, but we got there in the end: the probable extinction of a cetacean. That's one less species of dolphin to worry about, which I'm sure is a great relief to all of us.
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.
2.Winterbirth has made it to the far side of the world (i.e. Australia) and judging by this and by this, it might get a slightly warmer reception than the England cricket team, if nothing else. (EDIT: the first of those links no longer connects with the relevant review. But it was a rave. Really. It said everyone should immediately go and buy Winterbirth. At least, that's how I choose to remember the sense of it...)
3. This last week, for the first time in what feels like ages, it has been neither wet nor windy nor cloudy hereabouts, which meant it was actually possible to enjoy a stroll in the great outdoors. England has evidently been submerged beneath an ocean of inconvenient fog, but here:
There's a very friendly review of Winterbirth over at Pat's Fantasy Hotlist. If all goes according to plan, I should be doing an interview for that site soon, too.
A PS to my last post about Interzone:I discover (via the excellent UK SF Book News) that there's an ambitious newcomer on the UK sf/f/h short fiction scene: Hub Magazine. While idly poking about their website, I further discover that they have a competition in their first issue, in which they seem to be giving away copies of Winterbirth. Now if that doesn't tempt the masses into subscribing nothing will. Maybe. Or not. Anyway, quite aside from their excellent taste in competition prizes, any new fish in the small pond of UK genre magazines is to be welcomed.
Plus: Looks like another European sale of the Godless World trilogy is sorted out, this time for the Czech Republic. Hooray.
I don't plan on tracking Winterbirth's every footprint across the web here, since I'm sure people can find that kind of stuff on their own if they want to (plus it'd probably be kind of unhealthy, and anyway, I'm supposed to be busy finishing the sequel), but in this case I'll make an exception: Winterbirth has the honour of being one of the last few books to be reviewed in Cheryl Morgan's long-running zine Emerald City, which is in the process of winding down. Emerald City's been going for such a long time (years and years, an amazing effort) that it's built up a humungous archive of genre fiction reviews that should be remaining online even though there won't be any new additions. It's well worth trawling through if you're looking for an opinion on a book you're thinking of buying.
As a newbie to the world of publishing, it's been an eye-opening experience to witness some of the workings of the industry. One aspect of it all that probably shouldn't have come as a surprise, but did, is how far in advance of publication copies of the book start circulating amongst reviewers and others, either as a manuscript or an Advance Reading Copy. So, with a few weeks still to go before Winterbirth appears in bookshops, there are already comments and reviews out there to be read. The first (as far as I know) appeared no less than three and a half months ago (three and half months!) here. A more recent one is in the 'Falcata Times', available as a pdf here, and largely duplicated on Amazon.co.uk's Winterbirth page. So now I know how a book acquires a review on Amazon before it's even been published ...