Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Slow Drowning at This is Horror

What is it with me and gnomes, eh?  Well, they're clearly evil, that's what.  I mean, look at them.  They're like clowns, but worse.  How anyone would want those things in their garden is beyond me.  You might as well just stick an upside down crucifix next to the pond and be done with it.

Awww, isn't it cute how he gazes into the depths of your soul?
My first story exploring the terrifying phenomena that is gnomes was called King Gob's Warcry, and it was about how the terrifying little buggers are plotting to take over the world.  From my point of view, it was only a little bit fiction. Unfortunately, it's vanished from the Internet along with the webzine that published it, so I can't put up a link to it; the world will just have to keep blundering along in ignorance until the fateful day arrives and we all find ourselves staring down the business end of a miniature fishing rod.

My second story about how messed-up and fundamentally homicidal gnomes are is called Slow Drowning, and it just went up at This is Horror.  After I won that whole Spectral chapbook competition thing (he says, as though it were a mere soup├žon!) Simon Marshall-Jones got in touch to see if I could cough up a story for the This is Horror site as well.  I had a bit of a think, but all I had that was of a suitable length was a story I'd always considered one of my more mainstream, non-genre efforts, a tale I'd been slowly hacking down from about three thousands words over a period of years, until the whole endeavour had become a weird exercise in masochistic editing ... the way I was going, I'd have finally finished it aged 83, it would have been exactly twelve words long and my brain would have exploded not long after.

Anyway, after a bit of a think, I realised that Slow Drowning was neither mainstream nor non-genre.  It was, in fact, obviously a horror story.  The evidence was overwhelming.  It was about death and abominable violence; in fact, of the two main characters, one of them spends the entire story dead. And what could be more chilling that the steady, soul-destroying corrosion of a loveless marriage?

Gnomes, that's what.  Because gnomes are scarier than anything.

Simon was quick to grasp this obvious truth, and came up with a suitable illustration. So if you don't want to read the story, you should still go and take a look at what a Simon Marshall-Jones picture of an evil gnome looks like.  You won't be disappointed.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Tales of Damasco: Update 4 (Part 2)

In Part 1 I covered the recent glut of Giant Thief news - admittedly missing out a rather nice review from Mr Stephen Theaker in his Theaker's Quarterly Fiction, where he describes it as "as much fun as you'd expect the story of a thief who steals a giant to be," as well as yet another interview I did, this one with Fantasy Book Review ... because, well, they weren't actually out at that point - so that just leaves Crown Thief and Prince Thief.

Well, the Crown Thief news is probably easier to just show:

Because that, dear reader, is what's going to be adorning the cover of my second novel come September.  I got it through a few days ago now, and I still have that weird "all my birthdays have arrived at once" feeling that comes along every so often in writing.  As great as the Giant Thief cover was, I had a clearer idea of how things work this time around and so a better idea of what I could reasonably suggest, not to mention a better understanding of Angelo Rinaldi's phenomenal strengths as an artist.  Put all that together and I was pretty sure we'd end up with something impressive.

But that...

Yeah.  Wow.  I strongly recommend taking a little time to go over some of the detail, because the detail is amazing.  Check out mysterious-guy-in-the-background's knife, or Damasco's stolen uniform. Check out the little tears in his jacket that will probably be completely lost once it's reduced to cover size but that Angelo still bothered to put in there.  Not bad, right?

Finally, we have Prince Thief, and there aren't quite so many exciting things happening with Prince Thief because I haven't actually finished it yet.  But I'm damn near the half way point on the first draft, and the first draft is so far the best first draft I've done, certainly in terms of technical getting-it-rightness but also I suspect in terms of telling a good story.  Considering that Crown Thief only really came together in the second draft, it's a funny feeling to have something that seems almost right to me at this stage.  Touch wood (hey, my desk's made entirely out of wood!) that I'm still feeling like that in thirteen chapters time, because that would be a really good way to be feeling.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Tales of Damasco: Update 4 (Part 1)

Honestly, you leave it a week or two and suddenly there's so much novel series news that it barely fits into one post.  The only reason I'm not splitting it into two parts is because then it would be Update 4, Part 1 and Update 4, Part 2, and that's just plain stupid.  It's like Rambo movie numbering.  I mean, First Blood, Part 2?  Explain that to me with your science, Sylvester Stallone.

It lives! It breathes! It talks!
Except ... and this is genuinely embarassing ... I'm about halfway through the post now, and it really isn't going to fit into one posticle.  I think Blogger might break.  And think of the catastrophic harm that would do to the fabric of society; think of all those people who wouldn't be able to post cute pictures of their cats falling off things.  So, okay, due to unavoidable circumstances outside of anyone's control, least of all mine, let's just call this Part 1 and pretend the whole horrible incident never happened.

Right.  So.  There's been plenty happening on the Giant Thief front since I last talked about it, a whopping two months ago.  Can it really be that long?  And didn't I say it had only been two weeks a couple of paragraphs ago?  Anyway the most exciting news - out of a lot of exciting news, it has to be said - is that the audio book edition of GT is now out.  I've been looking forward to hearing it ever since I found it would be happening ... and, well, I still am, because I haven't actually been sent a copy yet, but I have listened to the extract on Audible (UK here, US here) and I'm okay with confidently saying that James Langton's done a terrific job on the reading.  Boy ... at the risk of seeming like I'm dropping hints ... I just can't wait to hear the whole thing!

What else?  Well, there've been a couple more interviews up: another text one with Civilian Reader and, fresh from the dank and sinister back rooms of Pontins Prestatyn and the SFX weekender, a live talky one with the Fantasy Faction lads.  Of all the interviews I've done (and let's face it, we're admittedly not talking huge numbers here) this is my favourite, because so much of it boils down to me, Marc and Paul geeking the hell out over our shared love and sci-fi, and I don't get to do that half as often as I'd like to, let alone have it podcast to thousands of people.

I'm the one who's not Ian Whates's left hand.
Lastly, there have been a fair old flood of reviews trickling in (in so much as a flood can trickle, which it probably can't) over the last two months.  I've actually lost track a little of what came in when, but here's a quick round-up of the ones I'm confident I haven't mentioned yet:

Fantasy Book Review described GT as "a very adept debut from an author who has a lot of talent", a sentiment echoed by Ed Fortune, writing for Clockwork Reviews at Nevermet Press, who said, "An excellent debut and I hope to see more from this fresh new talent in the future." TheVillageSmith asked the easily answered question, "Who can go wrong with a book about an incorrigible thief whose rapier wit is stronger than his backbone" (no one, obviously) while firebreathingmonsters cut straight to the blurb with "this is a light, fun read and I enjoyed it."  Meanwhile, Pornokitsch concluded their 30 word review by noting, "...overall, an excellent fantasy debut" and (just in) Bloodsong of Bloodsong's Blog begins, "I loved this book!" and concludes with some fantastic advice: "...try to read it in an Antivan accent. (or Spanish/Hispanic if you like). It makes it richer and even more enjoyable."

I wholeheartedly concur.

Not me.
My absolute favourite, though, is John Hobkinson's, from his blog Clockwork Reviews (a different Clockwork Reviews from the above, oddly.)  John says that "I would be hard pressed to find someone who would not enjoy this book", amongst other nice things, but that isn't why he's my favourite.  It has more to do with John recounting the story of how I (acidentally, it has to be said) talked him into buying a copy of Giant Thief at the SFX weekender, and his getting in touch to send me the above photo - hopefully the last record, by the way, of what that loveable rapscallion Lavie Tidhar described to anyone who'd listen as my Steve Guttenberg hair.