Promise of a Battered Moon – the Jack Teng Interview!

Jack Teng? Who he?

Long story short, he’s the author of a new and rather spiffy SF novel from Grimbold Books. You can find him on the twitters at @MyBossIsADroid, and over here at his own site, or on the wild streets of Vancouver chasing down replicants and answering only to the name K. Possibly.

Test 6That book, of course, is this one: The Promise of a Battered Moon. It’s out now at all sorts of Amazons.

A planet-killer asteroid is hurtling to Earth and everyone is freaking out. But not Manon Fontaine. She knows what the asteroid really is and it’s hers. Once she controls it, she’ll revive the world’s post-war economy and also her mother’s mining company. But first, she needs to navigate family betrayals and kidnapping attempts before she can finally determine her own fate.

Meanwhile, Ann Wilson, an augmented Union super-soldier, has been having problems (beyond the mental strains of indiscriminate killing): her last targets were blown up with fractional deuterium devices, and made things very messy. Ann hates messes. What she hates more is a commanding officer who jerks her around and then sends her, of all places, to Luna City. Little does she know she’s conducting illegal missions to gain control of the asteroid.

In the middle of it all, is Eric Lin, a Union-born-Chinese thruster mechanic. Because of the war with the PPA, he’s been ostracized and forced off-planet to Luna City and the orbital colonies. All he wants is to be accepted and left in peace. This apparently is too much to ask, as both the Union and the PPA send soldiers to drag him away for the-hell-knows what. The reason is in fact that he holds the key to controlling the asteroid.

Amidst traitorous double-agents and assassinations, Manon, Ann and Eric’s paths collide, leaving a wake of destroyed orbital stations and rampaging mobs, ultimately leading them into a confrontation on the moon.

If that doesn’t sound like Gareth L Powell-sized fun, then you plainly need to read it again. Or, go forth and hear from the man himself, below!

So, this story you’ve written. What’s it about? Why should I interrupt my nap-time to read it?

It’s about my horrible ex-partner and a huge asteroid coming to destroy the planet!

Actually, both are true, but the book is about three characters related to an asteroid that suddenly appeared and is threatening to destroy the planet. One of them is a super-assassin named Ann, who’s slowly going insane. The other is Manon, a French-Canadian trying to rebuild her family’s business. And the last is Eric, who doesn’t understand why two superpowers are trying to kill him and are willing to kill his friends and destroy his former satellite home to do it. Their fates are intertwined as they all are brought against their wills to the Luna City. (Also, Eric’s ex-girlfriend may or may not have been inspired by my ex! Ah, the sweetness of spite!)

Where do you get inspiration? Where did the ideas for your latest novel come from?

Good question! My inspiration often comes from a mix of the news and my life. For example, I grew up in Quebec and many of my friends are French-Canadian, so I thought it would be fun to weave them in. I already mentioned my ex-partner though.

The biggest inspiration comes from my addiction to reading the news every day. It’s a very small spoiler to say this, but one of the key reasons why the asteroid is of interest to people in the book is because it contains a large hoard of rare earths. In the book, the planet’s rare earth supply has been almost depleted, which has caused the world economy to tank. So whoever manages to control the asteroid and the rare earths it contains will be able to restart the economy and be very very rich. In our times, we’re starting to see some battles over certain minerals like cobalt and lithium, which are essential for batteries. I just took that idea and put it in an asteroid!

Jack TengWhat are your plans to conquer the world?

I will make fill the world with delicious ferments! Mooohahahahaha! Seriously though, my partner and I really enjoy making fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kvass, bread, natto, miso… hell, you name it we probably fermented it. One day everyone will love deliciousness of the partially rotten food!

What research rabbit-holes have you been down while writing? What was the most interesting, or the most tedious?

One of the more complicated topics I was looking into was how to terraform the moon. I was very saddened when I learned that the moon’s gravity just couldn’t support an atmosphere. But then I thought about whether it could be an atmosphere with different gases, and then… I had to abandon the project because it was getting ridiculous.

How often do you provide a cat sleeping spot- I mean, write? Do you have a comfy chair and a routine, or do you freelance cat-nap style?

I’m usually pretty regimented when I write. I often try to squeeze in 500 words in the morning and then 500 words in the evening. This way I can target about 7-8000 words a week.

When you’re not writing, what do you spend your time doing? Besides looking at cat pictures on the internet, obviously.

Usually cooking and experimenting with food! For my birthday this year, I’m most excited about what I’ll be cooking up. It’s an interesting, roundish body part and there are two of them, but they’re not eyeballs or kidneys. Can you guess what it is? I’ll be cooking it in pork lard flavoured with sumac, and I’ll be eating them with smashed potatoes cooked with hops-butter! YES!

Is there anything you’ve read/seen recently that would be worthy of my attention?

I really enjoyed Maggie Shen King’s An Excess Male. Brilliant!

Because my bosses Grim and Bold brought me this interview – along with half a vole and what I sincerely hope is only a hairball – they’ve got a few questions of their own…

Cats. Fabulous, or completely fabulous?

Utterly fabulous!

What’s your second-favourite food? Because obviously you are a human of taste and discretion, and therefore your favourite is tuna.

Tomato sauce

Bold’s bow tie: excellently stylish, or rather dashing?

Dashing!

14212167_10154346725991826_5900355182089162614_nOn a scale of ‘excellent’ to ‘needs more practise’, how good are you at giving ear scratches?

Peerless

 

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The Season of Giving! [Giveaway Alert!]

Because it’s been a sucky year all around, what with shit demagogues and rubbish policies, I thought I’d try to lighten the load for some of you. Well, three of you, at any rate. Goodreads are being scumbutts with their giveaways, so I figured I could give a few ebooks away instead.

All you have to do is follow me and Grimbold Books on Twitter (@stevenjpoore and @GrimboldBooks) and RT the tweet shown below, and you’re in the draw to win both parts of Malessar’s Curse – that’s Heir to the North and High King’s Vengeance – in either epub or mobi format.

The draw will take place on Christmas Eve, and I’ll be in touch with the lucky winners after that!

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.

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… 🙂

Cassia on the Gemmell Awards Longlists again!

The David Gemmell Awards are among the most respected awards in fantasy fiction, and their longlists alone could fuel a good-sized TBR pile for several years straight. This year the Gemmell Awards will be hosted by my sort-of-home convention Edge-Lit, in Derby, on 15th July. The longlists are open to public vote, as of today, and will be so until 31st March.

Last year, Heir to the North was nominated to the longlist of the Legend Award by some extremely generous and lovely people. That was brilliant. 🙂

Full wrap cover for HKV, by Jorge Luis Torres (@Uttotor)
Full wrap cover for HKV, by Jorge Luis Torres (@Uttotor)

This year, The High King’s Vengeance is on the Legend longlist, alongside my fellow Grimbold authors Joanne Hall (The Summer Goddess) and Joel Cornah (The Sky Slayer). But not only that – my cover artist, Jorge Luis Torres (whose portfolios you can find here and here) is on the longlist for the Ravenheart Award too.

Your votes may, or may not, make a difference – but if you enjoyed any of the longlisted books last year (mine in particular but yes, other choices are available) then please go vote.

The Gemmell Awards – Voting Page

The English Way…

2017-01-10He’s right, y’know. It’s a very English thing, hiding your light under a bushel. And as authors, we’re more reserved than most folks. But with a new year comes a new round of shortlists, longlists, and nomination suggestions. For what it’s worth, however much it may be, here’s my eligible writing from the last twelve months.

Novel

The High King’s Vengeance, published by Kristell Ink/Grimbold Books, edited by Joanne Hall, cover art by Jorge Luis Torres.

Short Fiction

Take Me With You, Piercing the Vale (Fox Spirit Books, edited by Adele Wearing).
Full Compliance, Evil Genius Guide (Fox Spirit Books, edited by Darren Pulsford).
Rent, Aliens: The Truth is Coming (Tickety Boo Press, edited by Andrew Angel & Dave De Burgh).
The Day Brockwell Park Stood Still, The Singularity (online, edited by Lee P Hogg).

Hey, I’m proud of this little haul. 🙂

Vote Cassia in the Stabbys!

From now until Wednesday 11th January at 12pm CST (whatever the heck that means), you can vote in the annual Stabby Awards over at r/Fantasy on Reddit

Among the nominees are the following Grimbold titles, which I personally reckon are definitely worth anybody’s time and vote:

Fight Like a Girl, edited by Joanne Hall and Roz Clarke (Best Anthology)
Heir to the North – audiobook release (Best Related Work)
High King’s Vengeance (Best Indie/Self-pub Novel)

Go on, y’know you want to…

Fancy giving me a sharp object to play with? Vote Cassia!

¹You’ll need to sign up for a Reddit account to vote, if you don’t already have one.