Chopper on Tour, 2019 Edition

[AKA: I’m Still Alive!]

This year has just flown by, hasn’t it? Almost like it knows it needs to bugger off with the bad news and right-wing tosspots it brought in. Bad enough we’ve had to flea-bomb the whole house this week, without 2018 dragging more shit in through the back door. Yeah, go on, fuck off, and take the gammon, book pirates,  and Brexidiots with you.

But, anyway. Just because this year has been infested with sociopolitical lice, it doesn’t mean I’ve not been busy. Like the fabled metaphor of the serene duck, there’s a boatload of paddling under the water.

Work continues on both ED6 and the new Age of Talons/The Golden Rule trilogy (I can’t make my mind up on the series title, but I’m leaning more to TGR at the moment). ED6 is heading slowly towards completion, while the first draft of the second part of the trilogy has reached chapter six and is settling down nicely. And yes, that does mean that the first book is complete and undergoing some scrutiny…

Meanwhile, I’m also working, as co-editor alongside Pete Sutton, on one of a series of anthologies for Grimbold Books. Forgotten Sidekicks will focus on the heroes that never were, the folks left in the shadows, the Fatty Bolgers of fantasy, and wouldn’t you know it – submissions are open to all right now!

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And in my spare time – don’t laugh, there is such a thing, or so I’m told – I’ve been part of a jury for the British Fantasy Awards, the winners of which will be announced at Fantasycon in Chester at the end of this month. And that brings us nicely to the Chopper on Tour element of this post:

This year Fantasycon and Bristolcon take place on consecutive weekends. Somewhat rashly, I have booked to attend both. This means you will be able to find me at the following panels and events –

Fantasycon

  • Saturday 20th October, 10am: Reading, alongside Shona Kinsella & Ben P Holden
  • Saturday 20th October, 11.30am: Organising Events and Awards panel, with Leila Abu el Hawa, Jan Edwards, Peter Sutton. I’m moderating this panel!
  • Sunday 21st October, 9.30am: Starting Out Writing Genre Fiction panel, with Rachel McLean, G. V. Anderson, Peter Haynes, Tasha Suri. Wait, I’m moderating this one too!

Bristolcon

  • Saturday 27th October, 1pm: It Were All Fields Round Here panel, with Dave Hutchinson, Jessica Rydill, GR Matthews, Anna Smith Spark. Guess what? I’m the moderator!
  • Saturday 27th October, 6pm: Desert Island Fantasy panel, with John Allen, Anna Smith Spark, Terry Jackman, Steven Poore, Jasper Fforde (M). I am not the moderator!

For the full program schedules for both events, see their respective sites:
Bristolcon: https://www.bristolcon.org/
Fantasycon: https://www.hwsevents.co.uk/activities-an-overview

See you there!

Live on the Nerd Book Review!

Happy Monday, folks! If you listen to podcasts – and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t – then you might just be interested in the Nerd Book Review podcast, available on itunes and Podbean, amongst many other platforms. Especially because this week NBR’s host Cameron is talking to an award-nominated Epic Fantasist and SFSF Socialist from Sheffield. You’ll never guess who that is…

Listen, comment, rate, and share!

Fantasycon 2017: Aftermath

Well, that happened!

You may have noticed that I was on the shortlist for Best Fantasy Novel at the BFS Awards this year – I did mention it once or twice. I didn’t win, and nor did Grimbold’s other shortlisted novel, Joanne Hall’s The Summer Goddess, but that wasn’t unexpected. (I did win some stroopwafels, which definitely was unexpected)

Best Fantasy Novel went to Adrian Tchaikovsky, for The Tiger and The Wolf, and I think he rather deserves it too. And I also reckon Jen Williams is more than worth a shout for The Ninth Rain next year. There y’go, you heard it here first.

No automatic alt text available.But while that award didn’t go Grimbold’s way, the award for Best Independent Press did. I’m absolutely over the moon for Sammy, Zoe, Jo, Kate, Joel, and all the other Grimmies who have put in such a massive amount of hard work over the last few years to make Grimbold Books a fantastic, professional, and passionate genre publisher that can stand toe to toe with some of the biggest names in modern fantasy and not look out of place.

And that reminds me…

My sole panel appearance of the weekend was on the subject of small presses, alongside Ian Whates, Francesca Barbini, Donna Scott, David Riley, and Peter Mark May. It was interesting to hear all of the other panelists mentioning the difficulties that small presses face in getting word of mouth and decent publicity for their titles in a marketplace that skews heavily toward the polar opposites of The Big Five and the densely populated white noise of self-published titles. Obviously, I’m a massive advocate of small presses, despite the low regard in which they are held by the vast majority of the self-pubbers. I firmly believe that small presses have a hell of a lot to offer to authors. If you don’t believe me, look at the sheer breadth of subgenres and titles that such presses embrace. Look at the #smallpressbigstories articles up on Fantasy Faction. Look at the academic work that both Luna Press and Fox Spirit have put out. Look at our award nominations. We didn’t get there by accident, y’know.

And yet, outside of conventions, it’s difficult for a small press to get any traction in the genre, flooded as it is with the same old names and their adherents endlessly banging the drum on every forum ever. Blame Amazon, blame Waterstones? Blame small-c conservatism on the readers’ part? If I had any of the answers, you’d be the first to know.

Heaven knows, small presses will never have the same reach and visibility as the Big Five, I’m not asking for that. But guys, you won’t get cooties from reading small press fiction. Live a little.

Chopper on Tour: Fantasycon 2017!

In what is swiftly becoming an annual tradition, or an old charter, or something¹, I’ll be attending Fantasycon 2017 at the end of this month. This year, after the northern wilds of York, Nottingham, and Scarborough, FCon takes place in the rarefied airs of Peterborough, at the Bull Hotel. I don’t have anything new to launch this time around, but I’ll be on a panel discussing small press publishing on Sunday at 10am, and reading – probably from The Witness, but that may change – at 11am alongside Lee Harrison and Ritchie Valentine-Smith.

Oh, and there’s the small matter of an awards ceremony later on Sunday afternoon. 🙂 If that sounds presumptuous, don’t worry – my money’s firmly on one of the other three riders.

I will definitely have copies of HKV and HTTN on hand to sell, should you not have picked them up yet.

See you there!

 

¹Apologies to Robert Rankin

Reviewed by my own book cover

While we’re on the subject of reviews, you can see a piece where Heir to the North is effectively dissected by its own sentient book cover over at Michael R Fletcher’s site¹. No, really, that picture is more than capable of speaking a thousand words. Sometimes, in fact, it’s a struggle to get the damned thing to shut up.

 

 

¹Buy his book.