Cassia hits the long lists!

It’s Friday the 13th, a good day for burying your head in the cushions, locking the doors, and generally avoiding the world altogether. But if you did that today, you’d have missed the announcements coming from the David Gemmell Awards for Fantasy – the long lists are up, and open for voting!

A slice of the long list!
A slice of the long list!

For the last eight years the Gemmell Awards – there are three in total, the Legend Award itself, the Morningstar (best debut), and the Ravenheart (best cover art) – have looked to honour the very best in fantasy fiction, especially those works that chime with some of the themes in heroic and epic fantasy that David Gemmell himself wrote about. Nominated authors in the past have included Kameron Hurley, Patrick Rothfuss, Brian Staveley, Brandon Sanderson, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Helen Lowe, Kristen Britain, Saladin Ahmed, Juliet Marillier… the list goes on, it really does.

This year’s long lists look strong. And this year, I have a very personal interest in them. No, the screen shot does not lie – Heir to the North is there in the main Legend Award long list. You could, if you feel strongly enough that Cassia’s quest to overturn the centuries-old curse on the lands of Caenthell was one of the best books you read last year, vote to put Heir to the North through to the whittled-down shortlist. Of course in doing so you’d be ignoring the frankly brilliant Guns of the Dawn (Adrian Tchaikovsky), the riproaring, levelled-up The Iron Ghost (Jen Williams), Edward Cox, Kate Elliott, Joanne Hall, Robin Hobb…

but, well, I wouldn’t stop you.

Whichever way you want to vote, you can do so here, until Friday 24th June:

And those lists should sort your reading out for the rest of this year too.:)

Heads Up!

It’s been awfully quiet on here for a while. But that doesn’t mean that there’s nowt going on – like the proverbial duck, there’s a lot of movement under the surface.

High King’s Vengeance has been pummeled with the red pen of actiony action, which is to say that the editing process is well underway. I keep getting that “did I really write this?” sensation, and I should point out that this is a good thing. You’re going to like this.

The audio mastering of Heir to the North, narrated by Diana Croft, is about one-third done, and sends shivers through my skin every time I go and listen to it. Seriously, you’re going to like this.

I’ve just submitted a short story for a prospective anthology from a new small press next year, assuming all goes to plan. It’s a nicely brutal slice of grimness with a couple of twists that really ought to hurt. Yeah, I think you’ll like it.

Fox Spirit Books are lining up the last few in their series of Fox Pockets – the mini anthologies of themed short stories. Take Me With You and Full Compliance will be on the ToC of those books – I’m particularly proud of Take Me With You, but Full Compliance also introduces South Yorkshire’s last superhero, Johnny Silver, who (as the old tagline goes) will return… guess what? I reckon you’ll like ’em both.

And if you fancy winning yourself a signed copy of Heir to the North – and why not? – get yourself to Goodreads next weekend, because from 15th May there’ll be one up for grabs! You have to be in it to win it, so why not add it to your TBR list now?:)


Why so serious?

I suppose I should stand up and officially scotch the (self-started) rumour that I’m going to be writing in the Star Wars universe. That was my April Fool, obviously, and probably not a good one either (Mary Robinette Kowal pretty much owned April Fool’s Day for pranking purposes; mine was a 4.30am first-coffee-of-the-day effort). Needless to say, Disney wouldn’t come to me first for a new entry to the canon, and certainly not for a continuation of the Jar Jar Binks story. Anyway, they’ve already got Chuck Wendig, and that’s enough beard for anybody.

It’s interesting to note that there seemed to be a lot less pranking than usual this time around. Paul Cornell posted on Twitter that there was more anger than anything else, though personally I didn’t see any of that through the morning. He wondered if we had been battered too much by the “absurdity” of everyday life.

It’s possible – there hasn’t been much good news this year, both in general and in personal terms. Looking ahead – US elections, idiot fundamentalists, idiot Conservatives, the demolition of the NHS and the return to Victorian-style poverty – there’s not much good on the horizon either. There aren’t too many reasons to laugh out loud. And that’s just the general stuff.

Should I feel bad over posting what was basically just an “unfunny lie”? Has April Fool’s Day become the Heath Ledger of jokes, uncomfortable, unwanted, polarising and vicious (reminds me of the troll-in-law, but less sociopathic)?

As with most things, it depends on what you’re doing and why. For example my own pranking is pointed at myself as much as anything else: I don’t take myself seriously, and I rarely expect anybody else to. I’m happy to set myself up as the butt of a joke (even a bad one) because I’ll most likely be the first one (sometimes the only one) to laugh. The world’s going to hell, led by the Pied Piper of Fart, so rather than drive myself mad worrying about it I’ll turn away for a moment and have a giggle. At myself, not at anyone else. It’s not big, it’s not clever, but it’s not directed at anybody else and it’s not hurtful either, unlike some of the other jokes.

We’re frustrated, we’re angry, we lash out – and the “jokes” hurt people.

Perhaps the world gets the jokes it deserves. If that’s the case, then if we want better jokes, then we really ought to do something about the world.


Heir To The North on Fantasy Faction

If I lived in an end terrace, rather in the middle of one, I reckon I’d be up a ladder right now, painting the text of this review onto the side wall.:)

it feels like a book you might have read years ago when you were just discovering fantasy, before you grew jaded by wonder and started demanding that everything should be gritty.

the final set piece is genuine inhale-it-through-your-eyeballs stuff.

This is everything I would hope for from a book that deals with a storyteller as a central character…

Go here to find the full review by AFE Smith:

Meanwhile, over in Starburst…

Reviews are important – and here’s a good one from the friendly folks at Starburst magazine for the Fox Spirit Books anthology Things In the Dark.

Which, as y’all should know, contains my short story Junior Twilight Stock Replacer. Not that I’m bragging, or anything. Except that I am, of course. Aw come on, it’s Friday. If you can’t brag on a Friday, when can you brag?

Click through to Starburst to see the full review


Why You Might Want To Tune In to SFFWorld Next Friday

Well, I’m not saying SFFWorld has an exclusive cover reveal for The High King’s Vengeance, scheduled for 6pm on Friday 19th February… but I’m not saying that they don’t either.

Alright, you got me. Yes, they do. If you don’t already read or subscribe to that rather excellent site, go on – sign up. They’re good people.:)

The Long Road to The High King’s Vengeance Starts Here!

The best thing about Heir To The North (apart from all the other things, of course!) is that the story doesn’t end there. Baum’s quest is completed, he has won, Malessar’s Curse has been broken, and now Cassia can see the enormity of what she has done.

So, what’s next? That’s what all the cool folks want to know. And, as it happens, there is an answer. That answer is The High King’s Vengeance, the second half of the story. This is the one with dragons and princes. This is the one with armies of stone and desperate duels. This is the one with romance and revelations. This is the one where Cassia comes to terms with herself and returns to Caenthell and the North.

Now all I have to do is let my editor beat the actiony action into it.

And all you have to do, for now at least, is add it to your TBR lists on Goodreads.

And soon – maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon – we’ll be revealing the finished cover art for The High King’s Vengeance, and you’ll get your first look at Cassia’s new companion for this second half of her journey…