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.

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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

Listed!

So… this happened. The High King’s Vengeance landed on the British Fantasy Society’s Best Novel shortlist, alongside Jen Williams’ The Silver Tide, Adrian Tchaikovsky’s The Tiger & The Wolf, and Joanne Hall’s The Summer Goddess.

Holy frickness.

If you squint a little, you can just see HKV behind that collection of excellence. A fifth-level swashbuckler trying to stand toe-to-toe with epic-level rogues and sorcerers. I’m a trifle overawed. Quite honestly, I feel like Guy Fleegman (Sam Rockwell’s character from Galaxy Quest) – simultaneously ecstatic and gloriously out of place, an imposter who really isn’t an imposter yet feels completely like one. I have no doubt that a few beers will help sort that out. But meanwhile, group hugs and whooping congratulations for everybody on the combined shortlists, the wonderful Grimbold team, and massive gratitude to everybody who put HKV way up there on that pedestal.

“I’m just jazzed about being on the show, man.”

Thank you all very much!

And that’s not the only good news – my publisher, Grimbold Books, is up for Best Independent Press at the same awards, alongside such small press powerhouses as Fox Spirit Books, TTA Press (Interzone, Black Static), Alchemy Press, and NewCon Press. A much deserved nomination for Sammy, Zoe, and all the rest of the crew too! And double hurrah for Joanne Hall and her co-conspirator Roz Clarke for the Best Anthology-nominated Fight Like A Girl! And to Nadine West and Sammy Smith for their short story nods! And Evelinn Enoksen for her Best Artist nomination!

Tell you what, Fantasycon is going to be fun this year… 🙂

New review!

In case you’d forgotten, The High King’s Vengeance is on the long list for the David Gemmell Legend Award this year. (I’m sure you haven’t forgotten, really.)

(It’s also eligible for the British Fantasy Awards, if you enjoyed it and are that way inclined, but you need to hurry because the extension for voting runs out tomorrow.)

And because you should always start the week the way you mean to carry on, there’s a wonderful, gosh-I’m-embarrassed review of HKV on Goodreads from Teresa Edgerton, whose Goblin Moon and Hobgoblin Night set the high standard for elegance and Regency-style fantasy of manners back in the 1990s (and which are now available once more from Tickety Boo Books, and yes you should buy them). The full review is linked here, but this paragraph is probably why the cat is looking at me funny right now:

But what makes this book special, I believe, is the characters, who are well-drawn, many-sided, and believable. Even those we thought we knew reveal new sides of themselves under the press of circumstances, and Poore handles these developments so well that none of it seems too convenient or too contrived, but rather the inevitable outcome of who these people truly are, their past experiences, and the choices they face.

No pressure for the ongoing project AoT1 then, eh? 🙂

Chopper on Tour 2016 – Fantasycon by the Sea!

What a weekend that was. Seriously, never has a convention felt both more and less like a holiday than this one. And I say that as a good thing, looking back at it now after all the dust has settled and we’ve shaken the sand out of our shoes and beaten off the seagulls with very long sticks. (And apologies for the belated write-up – it’s been a long month already!)

Low points? Okay, there were a few; let’s get them out of the way now so we can focus on the good stuff. The Grand Hotel was grand in name and decor, but like so many old galleons, there were leaks below the waterline, ghosts in the closet, seagulls in the bathroom… It didn’t affect me, for the most part – the room Joel Cornah and I shared had a glorious sea view and was serendipitously directly opposite our dealer’s table on the first floor balcony. It was basic, and the window onto the balcony had last closed properly in 1945, but there was a kettle, and hot water in the morning, and it was somewhere to sit and breathe for 10 minutes any time I needed to give myself a break. At conventions, that’s the most important thing.

The food? I’ve had worse at many Tesco cafes, though the scrambled eggs did stretch the definition of edible and they certainly made the homeward journey windy. The word basic will be rolled out more than twice in this post. Customer service in the bar was hopelessly slow.

But.

But.

The package – the convention as a whole – was excellent. I’ve always wanted to sweep down that sort of staircase with an entourage. I panelled with brilliant authors and editors. I busted the karaoke with a rendition of Bonnie Tyler’s Holding Out For A Hero that the audience won’t soon forget. I said hi to Joe Hill and Scott Lynch, and talked with Elizabeth Bear. I made tentative SFSF plans. For half an hour I abused my PLH to serve wine from behind the cocktail bar. James Bennett proposed marriage¹. I finally met the wonderful Stan Nicholls, and nearly made off with Pete Newman’s freshly-won Gemmell Award before he could flee with it back to the Grand. The lovely folks at Unsung Stories

And as a co-frontperson (with Joanne Hall and Joel) for the Grimbold Books stall, we defied the dispersed layouts to strike fear into the wallets of everybody at the con. 🙂

Oh, and there was the small matter of a book launch, or three. The Summer Goddess (Joanne Hall), The Book of Angels (AJ Dalton), and my own The High King’s Vengeance all got officially launched on the Friday evening in a frenzy of wine and badges. A successful little party it was, and thank you to all who came!

And last, but definitely not least, there were the British Fantasy Awards. You won’t be surprised to learn that I didn’t win – Zen Cho took Best Newcomer, and deservedly so to be honest – but I’m still incredibly honoured to have been shortlisted alongside such a talented fire-team of authors. That makes Zen Cho the honorary Heir to the North, I reckon.

Next up in the tour diary – Derby Writers’ Day on October 15th, and Bristolcon on October 29th. Hope to see some of you at either of those!

 

¹Dear reader, what can I say? I had to decline – I’m not sure Rach would have been very understanding…

Countdown Commences!

At 5pm on Friday 23rd September, in the cocktail bar at the Grand Hotel, Scarborough, as part of the Grimbold Books Triple Header Launch at Fantasycon-by-the-sea… The North Will Rise Again. Again.

That’s right folks, there’s just over two weeks a mere handful of days before The High King’s Vengeance bursts into the world. And if you can’t make it to Scarborough, don’t worry – you can preorder both paperback and ebook now via Amazon and have them delivered direct! Or, just as thrillingly, you can go into Waterstones and ask them to order it in for you.

There’s several good reasons for picking a copy up in person of course, not least of which is that I’ll be signing and reading! Plus, and this is a biggie, it’s the Triple Header – The Summer Goddess, by Joanne Hall, and The Book of Angels, by AJ Dalton, are being launched at the same time. Who knows what might happen?

And THERE WILL BE BADGES. Limited edition Team Rais and I Am The Heir To The North badges, your choice! All you have to do is turn up…

And did I mention the hardbacks? No? Oh, just wait….

After that, on Sunday 25th September, I hope you’ll join me on the edge of your seat to find out how Heir to the North fares in the British Fantasy Awards. I’m up for Best Newcomer alongside Marc Turner, Zen Cho, Peter Newman, and Becky Chambers – and having read all the whole shortlist over the summer, I have to admit that I feel like a real outsider. Whoever takes this one will thoroughly deserve it.

See you in Scarbie!

British Fantasy Awards Shortlists

So, the BFA shortlists were announced this morning. I’m seriously impressed by the range and quality of genre fiction that these awards celebrate. From Gollancz and Orbit, through Angry Robot and Solaris, to Tenebris, Fox Spirit, Alchemy and Undertow; from Jen Williams, Nnedi Okorafor, and Zen Cho to Paul Kane, Paul Cornell and Vincent Chong – these are all good people and great works. You should check those shortlists and base the rest of this year’s reading off them. Really. Especially African Monsters, Guns of the Dawn, The Iron Ghost, The Death House, and The Stars Seem So Far Away.

And then there’s the Best Newcomer category. Marc Turner, Peter Newman, Zen Cho, Becky Chambers, and me.

Eek. This may mean I’ll have to do the Banquet at Fantasycon. You have been warned.

More seriously, whichever of those four gets the win, I’ll be first on my feet applauding.

And more seriously still, much as any writer worth their salt dreams of awards and affirmation, I wasn’t expecting this. So I reckon a massive credit needs to go to Sammy Smith and Joanne Hall, who have made Heir To The North into a book that people think is good enough to stand on a shortlist alongside The Vagrant, When The Heavens Fall, Sorcerer To The Crown and The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet.

The North Will Rise Again?

I’ll drink to that. 🙂