Sunday, 25 September 2011

Second Commission, Now With Added Brains

I mentioned a few posts back that I had my first story commission recently, when editor Eric Guignard approached me about his forthcoming Dark Tales of Lost Civilisations anthology.  In that post, I also kind of hinted at the fact that, almost straight away afterwards, I was approached by another editor with a whole 'nother request for my work.  Then I left the whole thing hanging on bit of an artificial cliffhanger, maybe striving for a sense of tension that wasn't entirely there or just bemusedly trying to draw a lengthy post to some sort of close.  Who can say?

Well ... me, obviously.  The truth is, I was being deliberately vague because, although said publisher had asked me for a contribution, they hadn't actually seen what I'd come up with.  And it was entirely possible that I'd send them my story and they'd never, ever, ever be in touch again, perhaps blocking my e-mail address just to be on the safe side.  Or else write back blaming me for the break-up of their marriage.  Or reveal that the whole thing had been some vicious and spectacularly mistimed April Fools joke.

In a pleasantly surprising fashion, none of those things have happened.  So here, belatedly, are the details I held back (or didn't know because they were about to happen in the future) in that last post.

Almost literally straight after me and Eric hashed out the last details for The Door Beyond the Water, and just after Eric let me know that the collection had been picked up by indie horror press Dark Moon Books, I got another e-mail - this one from Stan Swanson, editor and publisher at Dark Moon.  Coincidence?  Whatever the opposite is of a coincidence?  I have no idea.  All I know is, Stan was writing to know if I might be interested in putting forward a story for Dark Moon's forthcoming Slices of Flesh anthology.

You just know that's not going to be a compilation of soul-searching romantic novellas, don't you? And that's probably a good thing, because I have absolutely none of those lying around.  (Well, okay, one.  But I'm saving that for the day Mills and Boon come knocking.)  No, what Stan was after was horror flash fiction.

Only, it was a little more interesting than that.  First of all, Stan happened to mention in that initial e-mail is that he'd already picked up a bunch of very big names.  I'm not sure how many of these are meant to be public knowledge yet, so I'll hold fire on the full compendium of famousness - but even at that early point, some true celebrities of horror had thrown their hats in with Stan. Reason being?  Well, aside from the fact that horror flash fiction is a basically good thing, it probably has a lot to do with the fact that all proceeds from Slices of Flesh will be going to charity - with, the last I heard, the main beneficiary being the Literary Project of America.

But there's one more thing.  And it's a thing that would have sold me on the project all by itself.  The cover artist for this prospective anthology?  It's Mike Mignola.  Now, normally when I namecheck someone, I'd give a bit of a bio for those who've somehow missed their work.  But honestly, if you don't know who Mike Mignola is then you just plain should.  Click on the link.  Seriously.  I'm not even asking here.

Oh, and my story?  It's the (maybe a bit too) provocatively named Wetback.  It has zombies.  If you've been following my work even slightly over the last few years, you've probably noticed I have a soft spot for writing the walking dead.  I think this one's a little different though, what with the zombie being the main protagonist and all.  Not a new idea I know, but I'm still hoping this is a take that hasn't exactly been seen before.

And it's going to be behind a Mike Mignola cover.


Sunday, 18 September 2011

Yes, We Have a Cover

You know what's really amazing?  That cover right there.

And the fact that I get to show it off here, now that Angry Robot have officially announced it.

And the way it has my name on.  See?  In big letters at the bottom there.  "David Tallerman".  That's me!  No, really, it is.

As for that dashing but shifty-looking bloke in the foreground?  That's Easie Damasco.  The reason he has a big, suspicious-looking bag in his hand?  That's because he steals stuff.  A lot.  Anything that's not nailed down and might be valuable, really.  Nothing is too small and nothing's too big to attract his criminal attentions.  Take, for instance a giant.  Which, funnily enough, is exactly what Damasco does.  Take a giant, I mean.  Because the giant was there, he wasn't nailed down, and as I hope we've established by now, Damasco is very into stealing things.

So that explains the title there.  I mean, this isn't a book about a giant who's also a thief.  Although, come to think of, it is that too.  Not that Saltlick (the giant's name is Saltlick) wants to get dragged into such things.  Oh no.  He just wants to go home, and maybe save his people from being forced into someone else's war by a tyrannical warlord along the way.  But when you end up spending time around someone like Easie Damasco, however inadvertently, bad things start to happen...

So there we have it.  Giant Thief now officially has a cover, and I hope you'll agree, it's an absolute stunner.  Thanks to Marc at Angry Robot for making it happen, for taking my comments into account, and most of for listening to my thoughts on who would be an ideal artist for GT.  And thanks to Angelo Rinaldi for being that ideal artist, for happening to be available at the right time - and for doing such a truly amazing job.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Giant Thief, Meet Crown Thief

It may sound odd, but until now, my upcoming novel Giant Thief and its half-completed sequel Crown Thief have mostly existed as two very separate entities in my mind.  That has a lot to do with the fact that Giant Thief was more or less complete by the time I started Crown Thief, which then more or less dominated my attentions for the subsequent six months.  Where Giant Thief was pretty much a done deal, Crown Thief was most definitely a work in progress, complete with steadily approaching deadline, so my brain's been tending to sideline the former in favour of the latter in a major way for quite a while now.

But there have been clear rumblings from the Giant Thief camp for a while, and now - with the release date less than six months away - it's most definitely becoming a going concern again.  At the start of the week I got the copy edit back, which was unlaborious enough to make me think that doing five major redrafts wasn't so crazy after all.  Meanwhile, I got a look at an early pencil sketch of the cover a few weeks ago, and it was pretty amazing.  Then, a couple of days ago, I got to see the painted (painted!) version and ... yeah.

I really wish I could show it off right here and now.  I wish I could at least announce who the artist is, because it's someone I've got a ton of admiration for, and I'm sure he (clue there!) has plenty of fans elsewhere.  But that would be cheating.  Because I'm pretty sure we'll be at the official reveal point soon, and until then, I can amuse myself by drooling over the copy on my desktop.  I tell you though, for someone who think patience is something hospitals have, it's proving a hell of a struggle.

So the Giant Thief stuff is getting exciting, to say the least.  But there's also real work to be done, and the real work is the second draft of Crown Thief.  And it really is real work.  Much of this week has been spent hammering the first two slow, expositionary chapters into one single lightning-fast introductory slap about the jowls.  Seriously, I'm a week in and I've already excised five thousand words.  This is editing from the Edward Scissorhands school.  If Crown Thief was a Miramax movie, Harvey Weinstein would be telling me to rein it in a little.  It's a crazy, scary process, but it feels like the right thing to do.

The upshot of all this is that my brain - a device prone to sticking its metaphorical fingers in its ears in the face of fearsomely big ideas - is slowly absorbing the fact that I have my first novel coming out pretty damn soon.  And that that novel leads into another novel which is also going to be coming out in the not too distant future, if I can just finish it and hammer out the glitches. 

Of course, while all that's going on, I really ought to be putting together that synopsis for book three...