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:
So, the plan is this: everyone signed up as a fan on the Winterbirth page on Facebookgets entered into a couple of draws - one next Friday, the 8th, the second the following Friday, 15th - and the lucky winners get themselves a free signed, and optionally dedicated etc., hardback copy of Fall of Thanes shipped off in the post to them by my own fair hand. If you like the sound of that, and aren't already hooked up with the rest of the Godless World fans on Facebook, get yourself over there and join up.
Or, if you're allergic to social networking, or just want to short-circuit the system and be 100% certain of getting yourself a signed, personalised copy, get in touch with Transreal Fiction and tell them what you want (click on my name at top right of home page to see how it all works). It won't be free, but nor will your ownership of it be reliant on the whims of the gods of chance!
Oh, and for those who like these things, there's a fairly chunky extract from Fall of Thanes to be found here.
Does it betray some weird psycho-sexual dysfunction (phallic insecurity, perhaps?) that my first reaction upon receiving the huge box containing my author copies of Fall of Thanes was to pile them all up into a tower and take a photo of it? Probably not, though I wouldn't dismiss the possibility entirely. Behold my mighty book tower! See how it ... towers.
Clearly, since these have shown up on my doorstep - and looking very fine at that - publication of the third and final part of the trilogy is now unavoidable. Early May, in a shop near you (or online if there're no shops near you, of course). For those thinking of putting in an order, a reminder: should you be tempted by the thought of a signed, dedicated etc copy of Fall of Thanes all of your own, the place to go is the Transreal website. Click on my name at top right for all the details, but the most important point is that it'll only cost you cover price plus shipping. Bargain!
While on the subject of books, I have been rectifying a shocking gap in my genre reading. Until this last week or two, my sole experience of Conan the barbarian was the long ago and rather dubious movies featuring a certain US politician in the title role. Now, I'm pleased to say, I'm making up for lost time by working my way through this gorgeous book - close to a thousand pages of pulpy, politically incorrect sword and sorcery merriment. I'm enjoying it considerably more than I thought I might, and for all the lack of 'polish' that occasionally crops up in the writing (these stories were being turned out incredibly quickly, after all), I've been struck by what an effective writer Robert E. Howard really is. There's some seriously vivid and atmospheric work going on, alongside all the vigourous hewing and hacking and thumping. Great fun. How come I never read this stuff before? Idiot.
And finally, to the person or persons responsible for ms antispyware 2009, I have only this to say: may your toenails shrivel and crack, and turn yellow and crusty and stinky, flaking off into your socks bit by bit until they are all gone, leaving only a suppurating blisters where once they lay. And if your stupid little malware gets on my PC again, I hope the suppuration spreads up your legs until it reaches areas more vital than toes. So there.
So, the great big signedBloodheir giveaway on Facebook has drawn to a close. To be honest, until I actually signed up for Facebook I was a bit of a sceptic about the whole social networking thing. I still don't think I'm really quite on the right wavelength, but I'm starting to 'get it' a bit more. I'm prepared to concede that they do actually offer a new kind of dynamic and structure to the whole internet thing that nothing else does in quite the same way. Anyway, now that the giveaway's done, I should mention, as I traditionally and predictably do at such moments, that signed and dedicated Bloodheirs are available to all sundry - socially networked or not - from Transreal Fiction. I quite like stopping by to sign them, so don't you worry about putting me to any trouble. It's a pleasure, really. So you're buying yourself a signed book, and me a little bit of pleasure. Everybody wins.
The latest must-read blog for sf/f bibliophiles: Enter the Octopus. Lots of good content, most significantly the huge, more-or-less daily, round ups of book-related links.
Pre-release reviews and rumours about this suggest that something interesting is on the way, and I'm gradually allowing my expectations to get high enough that I'm virtually inviting disappointment to come and stomp all over me:
Rumours abound that this chapis being lined up to be the new Dr. Who. Like him very much indeed as an actor, but Dr. Who? Maybe, so long as they went the not-too-manic route. Guess we'll see in due course. Or not, these being rumours of the plausible but entirely unconfirmed sort.
Strange Maps, which is one of those sites that pretty much justifies the invention of blogging software all by its lonesome if you ask me, has an interesting post on a wildly silly proposal to drain the North Sea, put forward in 1930. It kind of sums up everything I like about the blog: fun maps and loads of semi-obscure geographical and historical info.
Funny/Clever (via SF Signal, which unlike Enter the Octopus is a long-established must-read site for sf bibliophiles):
I've been interviewed at mighty length over at A Dribble of Ink. Go have a look, if you like.
Plus, we're now in the final week of the great big Bloodheir giveaway on Facebook. Three lucky winners have already been picked out of the hat (actually, rumour has it they're being selected using an old set of D&D dice, but I don't know how credible such rumours are ...). One more chance to win, this Friday, so if you like the idea of getting your hands on a signed, dedicated hardback of Bloodheir, go sign up as a fan at the Winterbirth page on Facebook. You've got to be in it to win it. Or something like that.
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 Fictionin 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 Facebookgets 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 ...).
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 programme for Alt.Fiction, the one day sf/f/h extravaganza in Derby in April has been published. It amounts to a seriously packed day of genre goodies, with so many authors crammed into a few hours and a few rooms that it makes you wonder how they find the space for anybody else. If you like your fiction speculative, it's definitely the place to be on April 26th.
Me, I'll be talking worldbuilding in the afternoon, and then I'm apparently launching a book. That'll be Bloodheir, then. Means a little reading and signing, I guess, so hopefully the printing presses are gearing up even now. What it also means is that if you're at Alt.Fiction, you might get the chance to acquire a copy of Bloodheir a whole six weeks before it turns up in the shops. Bargain. UPDATE: No, Bloodheir won't be available on the day. Too soon. Oh well.
Anyone else who wants one can also have a signed copy of Bloodheir, mind you. Transreal Fiction will take orders for signed (and optionally dated, dedicated, inscribed, whatever) hardbacks and post them off to you as soon as it's published. As far as I know, the cost is just cover price plus whatever packing and postage costs are to your part of the world.
On a wholly unrelated subject, if you've got a couple of minutes to spare, turn your sound on and go try this awareness test. It's not easy ...
The Winterbirth hardback well has run dry. Okay, that's not strictly true, since there're no doubt still some in circulation out there in bookshops and on the internet, but Transreal Fiction, who've been selling the signed hardback, are getting an 'Out of Print' message from the distributors. Should anyone for any reason think a signed paperback of Winterbirth would be nice, or make a nifty Xmas present for someone, Transreal can still supply those, but it looks like no more hardbacks will have to suffer the indignity of being defaced by my scrawlings.
I'm still getting an occasional query about signatures, so just to clarify: last I heard, somewhere in the Orbit UK offices there's a pile of bookplates that I signed a while ago. If you'd like one to stick into your copy of Winterbirth, drop them a lineand they might be able to help you. The only other option if you want a signed copy is to buy one, I'm afraid: if you order Winterbirth from Transreal Fiction- they can still get hold of the UK hardback as far as I know - I can sign (and optionally dedicate, date, whatever) it before it's shipped out to you.
I am, on a more or less experimental basis, on Facebook. To be honest, I really don't get this whole social networking lark. I have a niggling, grumpy old man suspicion that it's all a bit Emperor's New Clothes, but let's ignore my no doubt ill-informed misgivings for now. If you're in there too and want to do the friend thing, feel free, but please bear the following in mind:
(a) if I've never heard of you, any friend request is likely to fall on deaf ears unless you include a message that you're a Winterbirth reader, or some similarly plausible excuse for getting in touch;
(b) I'm not actually likely to do much in the way of social networking in the foreseeable future (I know, why be on Facebook, then?). For the time being at least my visits to Facebookland are infrequent and brief, and
(c) don't be surprised - or offended - if one day I have up and disappeared completely. It might just happen, if one too many people try to turn me into a pirate ninja zombie vampire or whatever.
I spent two very pleasant hours listening to the Starship Sofa guys talking about Interzone magazine. It's the usual rambling, diversionary discussion, taking in everything from Goth bands of the 1980s through the merits of various Star Trek: TNG characters to Michael Moorcock's cat and its contact lenses. There's a good interview with one of the Interzone editors in the second hour, too. You can get the mp3 (episode 60) here.
Next week there's a Blog Action Day when bloggers are invited to post about environmental issues. I'm not really into this kind of stuff - arbitrarily selected collective action days of dubious efficacy, that is, rather than environmental stuff, which on the whole I am into - but I might participate. Haven't decided yet. In the meantime, here's an arbitrarily selected (and gently photoshopped) picture of some wildlife, to see if I can get myself in the mood: an eider duck I snapped on the Isle of May way back in the Spring. Probably the coolest duck in the world. In so far as any duck could be said to be cool.
I inadvertently watched some of a CSI Miami episode last night. Coincidentally, it's just been identified as the most-watched TV show in the entire world. Now CSI Miami was OK when it started, but some time ago it not so much jumped the shark as harpooned it, hauled it up onto the beach, slapped some lipstick and a dress on it and took it out on a date with a view to producing lots of little human-shark hybrids. It's entered such extreme realms of ludicrous improbability and self-caricature that it's almost reached the level of surreal, comedic art. I mean, seriously: the biggest TV show in the world?!? You people are nuts. All of you.
It occurred to me there might be one or two new visitors to the site, what with UK paperback and imminent US publication of Winterbirth. Also, thanks to the miracles of modern technology, this blog is now syndicated on Amazon.com, so maybe some folk will stumble across it over there (waves to anyone who happens to be reading it over there!). All in all, I thought a little welcome and orientation might be in order, so this is it. Hello and Welcome.
This blog is a fairly random mix of news, rambling, links to things elsewhere that I find of interest. Entirely normal bloggish stuff, in other words. I mentioned some reasons why I blog here, but if you like you can also regard it as my indirect means of answering the frequently author-targeted questions 'Where do you get your ideas from?' and 'What are your influences?'. Partial and vague answers are scattered throughout this blog, a bit like bones buried around a garden by an over-active and forgetful dog. (Do dogs actually do that outside of cartoons? I've never owned one, so I don't know whether it's a myth or not.)
There is a feed thingy, to which you might want to consider subscribing (and if you're not using those things yet, why on Earth not? I love my feeds, I do. Whoever invented RSS should get a Nobel prize, or a knighthood, or something.)
Elsewhere on the website, the Gazetteer section has some (spoiler-free) info that fills in a little of the background to events described in the books. Stuff gets added to it now and again - in fact it's just been updated with a note on the Kyrinin clans. Another new addition is something that's almost but not quite like a cover gallery: all the covers so far stuck onto Winterbirth can now be viewed on this pagedeep in the bowels of the website, which is also the place to go for anyone who's curious about non-English language editions.
Should you be yet to buy the UK paperback, and be tempted by the thought of a signed copy (or a signed copy of the UK hardback, which is still available and might actually be of more interest to those of you who like signatures on their books), see here for details.
Oh, and interviews with me have been sprouting across the internet like an infestation of pernicious mushrooms recently. Should you not yet be sick of the sight of me rambling on, there's one here: part oneand part two, and another one here.
And that was the Welcome Message. Consider yourself welcomed, and thanks for listening.
The interview is at A Dribble of Ink. The longest one I've done to date, as far as I can remember. I was feeling talkative evidently, but despite that it turned out reasonably well, I think. There's a lot of other good content at A Dribble of Ink, so have a look around while you're there.
The signed books are at Transreal Fiction. Anyone who would for some reason like a signed (and optionally, dedicated, dated, whatever) copy of the Winterbirth paperback can order one from Transreal - details on their website, or you can e-mail enquiries[at]transreal[dot]co[dot]uk for more info. Cost is cover price plus p&p.
To my surprise, interest in signed copies of the hardback hasn't quite died down yet either, so just to confirm: you can still get signed hardback Winterbirths from Transreal too, although I'm not entirely certain how long it will remain available now that the paperback's out, so now's the time to buy if you're so inclined.
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 Feastfor 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 ...
Just before I get to the point of this post, since it has an American theme: people keep saying George W. Bush is now a lame duck, so what might a lame duck President find to do with his time? Answer here.
So, to our main story. A bit slow out of the blocks with this news, since it's been agreed for a little while now, but: I'm delighted to say a deal's been done for Winterbirth to be published in the USA. Getting published in the UK and various European countrieswould, to be honest, have been enough to keep me happy for a long time - adding the US to the list is a fantastic thick crust of icing on the cake.
The US edition will be one of the first books to appear from Orbit in the USA, making it part of one of the more ambitious undertakings seen in sf/f publishing for a while. Orbit's turning itself into a globe-spanning genre empire, with a foot in each of the three biggest English-speaking markets (which I suppose makes it a tripod - a form with a noble sf heritage).
Same continent, different country, and look: I'm being given away for free. (EDIT to update: that competition's finished now, so the freebies are no more, I'm afraid)
Just in case any non-Brits are visiting (and very welcome you are, if so), it might be worth mentioning that there are to be translations of Winterbirth. Dutch, German, Russian, Polish and Romanian editions are in the works so far - exciting stuff for your average first-time author who thought just trying to get a UK publishing deal was being optimistic!
The first to see the light of day is likely to be the Dutch edition from M, scheduled for around April 2007. Current plans are for the German edition, from Piper, to hit the shelves in Autumn 2007. I am in awe, by the way, of those who have the skills to translate a novel. Being functionally illiterate in any language but English myself, their abilities seem almost magical to me.
And for anyone toying with the idea of buying the good old-fashioned English language version of Winterbirth, a reminder that if you contact Transreal Fictionthey can sell you a signed (and optionally personalised!) copy, as reported in this post. It may be an enormously valuable heirloom one day. Or a handy signed doorstop. Never know when you might need one of those.
So ... I said a few days ago that there were only two ways to get my signature in a copy of Winterbirth:
(a) ask Orbit to send you a signed bookplate thingy for insertion into your copy, and
(b) search the bookshops of Edinburgh for the signed copies that most of them have (or certainly did have a week or two ago).
Well, now there's a third rather more user-friendly option that works even for those who don't live anywhere near Edinburgh: contact Transreal Fiction, Edinburgh's specialist sf/f bookshop, and they will be happy to sell and post you a signed copy. There might be ever so slight a delay, since I will have to actually pop in there to sign the thing, but it'll only be a few days. A (very simple!) personal dedication or inscription should be possible if you ask for it.
I believe Anderida Books, a specialist seller of signed first edition books of all kinds, also has a few signed copies in stock at the moment, or will do very soon (as well as whole host of other tempting offerings for the discerning book collector).
Got a couple of questions via the website, the answers to which may be of wider interest, so:
When are the second and third books in the trilogy going to be published? The plan is for a roughly annual schedule, so Book 2 should be out late 2007, Book 3 late 2008. Plans are fragile things of course, but that's the one in place unless and until something changes. Titles are to be confirmed - I think I know what Book 2's called, but at the moment I've got title block over Book 3 ...
How can I get a signed copy? I'm afraid for the time being there are only two ways, and one of them's relevant only to a few readers. The first is to contact Orbit ( Orbit(at)littlebrown(dot)co(dot)uk with the (at) and (dot)s replaced as appropriate, of course ), and ask them to send you a signed bookplate that you can put into the copy you've already bought. The second applies only to those geographically fortunate enough to live within easy reach of Edinburgh: most of the bigger bookshops have signed hardbacks for sale (unless they've improbably sold them all already).
And finally ... got my first report of Winterbirth-induced bloodshed: "In an incident as freakish as it was dramatic, at 6am this morning I managed (in my sleep) to knock my newly acquired hardback copy off the shelf above my head and deliver a gash to the forehead ... Luckily I wasn't blinded but I think I will gain a black eye." Obviously I regret any pain and suffering caused, though a little bit of collateral damage is probably inevitable in the cutthroat world of publishing. And it does seem strangely appropriate, given the not-unbloody cover art.