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!

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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…

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. 🙂

Voice of the North!

It’s been a bit quiet over here recently. But, much like an iceberg, there’s plenty of frantic paddling beneath the surface. No, wait, that’s ducks…. 90% of a duck is under the surface… or summat….

Anyway.

Here’s some news that you might already know! Heir To The North, which is slowly gathering praise all across t’net, will be coming to Audible as an audiobook later this year! We (that is, Kristell Ink/Grimbold Books and myself) have signed up a wonderful narrator – Diana Croft – who we reckon can more than do justice to Cassia’s story. Obviously, this may take some time, but keep your ears open for the release dates…

And talking of release dates, High King’s Vengeance is pencilled in for late 2016. It may seem months away yet, but it will be upon us before you know it…

And where can you see me this year? Aside from the Sheffield Socials – the first of which will be on February 20th, with guests David Tallerman and Adele Wearing – I will once more be at EdgeLit, FantasyCon and BristolCon. More details on those closer to the time, of course…

Now, back to TFL. Enjoy your weekend!

“Not much of a go-getter”: the 2015 round-up post

It’s that time of the year again, when I look back at my mother-in-law’s tired and less than complimentary put-down¹ and measure myself against it. Well, nothing very memorable happened in 2015, did it?

Apart from (and with no apologies for beating my own drum here):

  • Photo: Sophie E Tallis
    Photo: Sophie E Tallis

    Fox Spirit Books published That Sinking Feeling in the Fox Pockets anthology Under The Waves.

  • Heir To The North launched at Fantasycon in Nottingham, with a platoon of matching t-shirts courtesy of the magnificent folks at Grimbold Books. What an absolute blast of a weekend that was, even if I never made good on my threat to do Holding Out For a Hero at the karaoke (next year…).
  • There was a road trip to Shropshire to scout the lay of the land for Project:TFL (which is being built from the keel up, as they say). So much pub grub…!
  • Being a panelist for the first time at Bristolcon, alongside Rosie Oliver, Misa Buckley, Dean Saunders-Stowe, and Gareth L Powell. And a long-overdue catch-up with Tim Wreford-Bush!
  • Being a panelist, and also moderating a panel for the first time at Sledge-Lit (with Rod Duncan, Julia Knight, Gavin Smith, Susan Boulton, Stephen Aryan, Alex Davis and Natasha Pulley).
  • nibs1We adopted a three-legged cat called Mycroft who now absolutely loves cuddles. This little dude has made himself right at home!
  • I know exactly what the cover for High King’s Vengeance will look like (you folks will have to wait a while longer for that, I’m afraid…).
  • Heir To The North got some awesome reviews from some equally awesome people. Reviews are important. I haven’t had to break out the HMHB “Bad Review” link yet, so let’s cherish the time before it has to happen!
  • We watched John Cameron Mitchell film exteriors for How To Talk To Girls At Parties on the street outside our house. Blink and you’ll miss it!
  • SFSF Social #1 Adrian Tchaikovski close upWe started up the SFSF Social with readings by Adrian Tchaikovsky and Jo Thomas – and going on to feature Dana Fredsti, Ian Sales, Jacey Bedford, Paul Kane, and David Barnett in the Socials after that.
  • We were a part of Sheffield’s Off The Shelf Festival with the 4th SFSF Social and hosted our very first Ask The Agent session with Amanda Rutter!
  • I appeared on Sheffield Live Radio and BBC Radio Sheffield –
  • Myself, Kevin Redfern, Hayley Orgill, Alex Bardy and Roy Grey successfully defended our team’s crown and reputation at the EdgeLit quiz, much to Alex Davis’s evident delight (sorry, Alex!)
  • I got invited to contribute to an anthology (Woodbridge Press – keep them peeled….)
  • It doesn’t signify anything, but I was pleasantly surprised to find myself on the the suggestions list for the British Fantasy Awards next year (not self-nominated, I promise you!).
  • Fox Spirit Books published Junior Twilight Stock Replacer in the Fox Pockets anthology Things In The Dark – as the year started, so it ends!

Yeah, not much, huh? Typing it out makes me realise just how much I’ve tried to fit into the last year – and yes, I’m probably going to try to do the same again next year too. That’s me, diving in like a loon…

Somehow, I found time to read other people’s books this year, as well as all of the above. I’ve been a bit more consistent in logging them on Goodreads, so it doesn’t take long to discover that some of my absolute favourite reads from this year (though not necessarily published this year) were:

  • A Darker Shade of Magic, by VE Schwab
  • Guns of the Dawn, by Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • breedBreed, by KT Davies
  • Planesrunner, by Ian McDonald
  • The Stars Seem So Far Away, by Margrét Helgadóttir
  • All That Outer Space Allows, by Ian Sales
  • The Art of Forgetting: Nomad, by Joanne Hall
  • The Burning Land, by Victoria Strauss

And I heartily recommend them all to you if you haven’t already caught them.

Plans for 2016? Well, there’s TFL to finish, Socials to plan, and conventions to book, HKV to edit, and the next, long-delayed installment of Empire Dance to sort out. And conventions too – Edge-Lit and Fantasycon again, and perhaps Bristolcon again too. I hope to see you all out there somewhere – and may the road rise with you!

 

 

¹Also, obviously, wrong. But hey, smile and wave folks, smile and wave…

Chopper On Tour: Fantasycon 2015 Schedule

Fantasycon happens this weekend in Nottingham. As you might expect, I’m going to be there. If you’re extremely unlucky, you might encounter me at the karaoke.

As far as scheduling goes, I’m not on panels or the individual reading events this time around. (Sledge-Lit, next month, is another matter, but more on that anon…)

There is, however, one rather important event I’ll definitely be attending. That would be the official launch for Heir To The North, on Sunday morning, at 11am. Look forward to seeing you there!

Heir To The North – Pre-order Now!

Yes. Exactly that.

The North Will Rise Again!

Heir To The North is up for pre-order on Amazon right now. Just £3.99 in the UK on Kindle format, and $6.09 for those of y’all Stateside. Paperback links will come shortly! You won’t be able to read it until October 23rd (just before Fantasycon – what a coincidence!), but you can be a part of the rising North today.

Why pre-order? Why not wait until the release date? Here, I’ll let Joanne Hall explain it far more eloquently than I can:

One of the reasons it’s really good to pre-order books by your favourite authors (or even by me 😉 ) is that all the pre-order sales count towards the first days sales – a good amount of pre-order sales can boost a book right up the Amazon charts on the day of release, and the higher up the Amazon charts a book is, the more Amazon will promote it and the more exposure it gets, which leads to hopefully more sales. A book can be promoted as a “number one Amazon best-seller” even if it reaches number one in a sub-sub category – it doesn’t have to be Number One across the whole of Amazon, it just needs to be number one in, for example, Coming-of-age fantasy. It still counts. So please, if you’re planning to buy the book on Kindle anyway, pre-order it now and give it a release day ratings boost!

Because more book sales mean more cake for you… And because the better this book sells the more likely it is that Kristell Ink will be able to publish [The High King’s Vengeance] in the future. Books are sold on the performance of the one before. So if you like my books and want to see more of them, please buy this one!

Nuff said – for now. See you all at Bristolcon.

*cough* buy my book *cough*