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

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…

Caenthell Lives!

It’s here, folks – it’s here! High King’s Vengeance launches TODAY. If you’re at Fantasycon-by-the-sea, you can swing by the Cocktail Bar in the Grand Hotel at 5pm to join the launch party, along with Joanne Hall (The Summer Goddess) and AJ Dalton (The Book of Angels). If you’re not at FCon (and why not?) you can follow all the weekend’s fun on Twitter with the hashtag #FCon2016 while you wait for Online Retailers to deliver your copy!

Pic: Tim Wreford-Bush

In fact, some copies have already been seen in the wild – here’s Crunchie, of South Wales, with one of the first! Send me – or Kristell Ink Books – your book pics, preferably with cats, because we’re like that – and we’ll post them up!

Meanwhile, it’s time to load up Elsie with all the launch stock and get on the road. Next month I’m in Derby for their Writers’ Day (15th October) and Bristol for Bristolcon (29th October) and I’ll be happy to sell and/or sign at both events.

Enjoy your weekend, and enjoy the book!

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!

High King’s Vengeance Launch Details!

You might have missed the news last night, so here’s the deets as we know them!

High King’s Vengeance, the sequel to Heir to the North and the concluding volume of the Malessar’s Curse duology, will launch at 5pm on Friday 23rd September at Fantasycon-by-the-sea in Scarborough. There will be paperbacks. There will be hardbacks. There may even be alcohol. If you’re dreadfully unlucky, I’ll read a few pages too!

But, that’s not all, not by a long chalk.

Kristell Ink doesn’t do things by halves – which is why this launch slot is a co-launch with Joanne Hall‘s latest fantastic standalone novel in the world of Hierath, The Summer Goddess. Summer_Goddess_Cover_by_Jason_Deem_largeHaving deservedly won Grimdark Magazine’s “Battle-Off” last year, Joanne has got stunning cover art by Jason Deem to show off as well as a rocket-paced rescue quest.

So, come and join us for what, in my humble opinion, will be the best launch of Friday night at Fantasycon so far!

Oh, and if you want sneak previews of both books, as well as bonus short stories and notes about our writing processes and themes, and you want to support one of the very best indie fantasy publishers in the UK today, go visit the Grimbold Books Patreon site and join our club.

Chopper on Tour: Edge-Lit 2016

After that frankly pants first half of 2016 (see previous posts) I was looking forward to a day out in Derby. Time to get back in the saddle, dive back into the genre, go see some very good friends and caress some very good books. Yes, I like books. You might already have guessed.

Edge-Lit never disappoints. Alex Davis and his team of non-expendable Redshirts can cope with pretty much everything a summer’s day in Derby city centre can throw at them, up to and including a Caribbean carnival and a king-sized showroom’s worth of high-revving hot ride motorbikes on the pavement outside the bar. Which was what happened, obviously. Sometimes there’s only so much bass you can physically take before you have to retreat into the murky depths of Derby itself in search on bass-uninflected caffeine rations.

I still remember being the hyper-hyper newbie at my first AltFiction (as it was back in t’day) and even back then the whole con seemed a welcoming a cheerful place. On my first day I waited outside a sandwich shop while Ian Watson got a bacon buttie on his way in to the venue. That felt bizarre. Coming back the following year, people were waving to me even before I got through the door. It’s that sort of convention. Hopefully the Sheffield SF Writers who made the trip this time – David R Lee, Kathryn Wild, David Sarsfield – felt that level of positivity too. I know Dave L thoroughly enjoyed his workshop with M John Harrison, and David Sarsfield was making his debut as a published member of the Fox Spirit Skulk, which is a positive force in its own right.

It took me a while to settle down this time, though the red wine at the combined NewCon/Fox Spirit launch definitely helped matters. David Tallerman’s short Cthlonic “school report” reading was a highlight, though I couldn’t really afford the hardback of his collection and came away instead with Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Apt collection and VC Linde’s poetry based on three words selected by a collection of different authors (if that makes sense). I’m not usually a great fan of poetry, but the whole concept was interesting enough to draw me in.

Before that launch there were the obligatory panel sessions to attend. The morning panels were more up my street than the afternoon ones. Alistair Reynolds, Ian Whates, Nina Allan and Adele Wearing asked if small presses were producing the best SF (the answer was a resounding yes, if you needed to ask). Marc Turner took the chair for a journey through the landscape of literary fiction and its on-off relationship with genre, with Jen Williams, Edward Cox and Cherry Potts all somehow managing to not mention Michael Moorcock along the way.

Lunch was the now-traditional stagger (wine, remember…) through the covered market in search of a £1 tray of chips. And after that exhaustion kicked in as hard as the carnival bass, meaning that the afternoon became a blur of coffee, juice and sitting down in various combinations. Team Newman (Emma and Pete) combined for Emma’s Guest of Honour interview, with readings from both After Atlas and the forthcoming fourth volume of the Split Worlds saga – which I probably shouldn’t have listened to, given that I still haven’t read the third… As ever Team Newman went the extra mile in making more of the time and the format.

With the Edge Lit Quiz on hold this year, the evening’s entertainment belonged to the Super Relaxed Fantasy Club, hosted by Jen Williams and Pete Newman, with guests Jason Arnopp and Maria Lewis. I’m fairly ambivalent about werewolves in fiction although Maria’s take on the monsters seemed agreeably uncuddly and bloody. Jason’s Last Days of Jack Sparks on the other hand is pitched much better to my caustic, agnostic self.

We shall draw a veil over the shenanigans of the Pinborough-helmed raffle, save only to say that it was not for the faint of heart. And, as I warned various folks beforehand, never sit near the front….

Over at the Fox Spirit Books stall, Adele Wearing and Daz Pulsford kindly agreed to make room for a small pile of (the British Fantasy Award-nominated – have I mentioned that yet?) Heir to the North. I was well chuffed and over the moon to discover that they all sold. I love you, whoever you are 🙂

Taking my cue from Alex Bardy, who this year cosplayed as one of the Expendables and carried it off with remarkable aplomb, I used a few spare moments to point people at other people., networking by proxy. I can point you all at Dan Grace and Gemma Todd, both names to watch out for in the future. Dan’s novella Winter is out now through Unsung Stories, and Gemma’s novel Defender is out early next year from Headline.

Jen Williams and Edward Cox were a delights to talk to, and Adrian Tchaikovsky was very kind. It’s always a pleasure to talk to Shellie Horst and Susan Boulton (Hand of Glory – coming soon!) Other SFSF regulars – Marc Turner, Dan Godfrey, Andy Angel, David Tallerman, Ian Sales – crossed my path and reminded me that it is probably well past time to start planning more events. Which is part of the reason me and Sara Smith were there anyway, to get our collective heads back into gear following the last few months. So no need to worry on that score – SFSF will return.

Amongst the EdgeLit debuts this year was author, editor and Bristolcon-wrangler Joanne Hall. Standing in at short notice for Pete Sutton, it was brilliant to see her again and give some power to the Grimbold presence at the con. T-shirts featuring a fox and a cat riding a dragon were mentioned in all seriousness in conversations with Auntie Fox…

Lastly, it’s not a convention without swag. Some of it is still hidden in the car until I can sneak it all in (I hope Rachel isn’t reading this…) but as well as the Tchaikovsky and Linde, I picked up Dan Godfrey’s New Pompeii, Jen Williams’ The Silver Tide, and Paul Kane’s Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell. The TBR is teetering on the verge of collapse. I wanted a copy of Pete Newman’s The Vagrant as well, but the bookstall ran out of that before I could get to it. Bah. Still hope to have read it and Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown by the time Fantasycon comes around, which means I’ll have read the whole Best Newcomer shortlist.

So, a very successful – if exhausting – day. If I met you and haven’t mentioned you, it’s mostly because I may have been on remote control at that point…

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. 🙂