Thursday, 24 October 2013

Fishfinger in the Abyss

I see no shame in admitting that I only submitted to 01 Publishing's Whispers From the Abyss anthology because I loved the hell out of Josh Finney's cover art.  I mean, look at it!  It's hard to mess up painting Cthulhu at the best of times, but sticking him in a trench coat is genius.  In fact, Cthulhu in a trench coat may actually be my new definition of that word.  But then there's the deeply weird and creepy way that his head and tentacles remind me of a first world war gas mask, which makes no sense on any remotely logical level but absolutely perfect sense on a twitchy, nightmarish, "Jesus, Cthulhu's head looks like a freaking world war one gas mask!" level.  And are those shadows in the bottom right kinda forming into monster shapes, or have I just been staring at this thing too long?

Point being, I like that cover a whole lot.

And that's really all I have to say, except that Whispers From the Abyss is now out to buy on Kindle for a wholly reasonable amount, and that it has my story My Friend Fishfinger, by Daisy Aged 7 in it, which I'm glad to see getting another airing because it's both the most adorable and the most twisted thing I've written, which is no mean feat when you stop to think about it, and oh hey, there's an introduction by Alasdair Stuart, who I go way back with, and who says some nice things about my horrid little tale and some particularly intelligent things about horror in general (albeit lifted a little from Bill Friedkin), and it's probably worth mentioning as well that I'm about half way through Whispers already and that there are a few really excellent stories contained therein. 

But mostly ... hey, look, it's Cthulhu in a damn trenchcoat, with a freaky gas mask head!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Full Time, All the Time

Yesterday I left my day job.

Which, considering I'm a contractor and that I'd been there for nearly two years, isn't that big of a deal in and of itself.  The important point is that I did it by choice, that I'd been planning to do it at this point in my life for a very long time, and that I have no plans to look for anything to replace my IT day job with another.

Or, to put it another way, my full time job description for the foreseeable future is "writer".

Obviously there are many ways in which this isn't a sensible or even a very sane thing to do.  We're in the middle of an interminable global recession, the ice caps are melting and punk is almost certainly dead.  Things have been going well for my burgeoning writing career these last couple of years, but with the Angry Robot deal now over, I'd be lying if I said I have much in the way of an income.

Then again, this isn't something I've done lightly.  I've always wanted to be a writer, and I strongly believe that life is too short to spend it not doing the things that are most important to you.  I've been planning for an awfully long time so that one day I'd have the opportunity to do this, and it's become clearer and clearer that I've taken things as far as I can around full time work.  I've completed two novels in the last couple of years, and it's left me hardly any time to do any other writing, let alone have anything as luxurious as a life.  It's been apparent for a long time that something has to give.  And now it has.

What happens now then?  Well, first things first, I'm having a short holiday, while I can still afford such extravagances.  After that, November will be mostly taken up with research, planning and conferencing, which means World Fantasy in Brighton and Thought Bubble in Leeds. Then in December I start my new novel, hopefully get back to the book I drafted before Crown Thief, War For Funland, and perhaps dig into some currently-secret projects that I'm nearly ready to move forward with.

So, hey, full time writing.  It's a thing, all right. 

Deep breath...

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Too Regular In Lamplight

After a couple of relatively quiet months, October is already shaping up to be eventful.  Barely have I had time to get a post up about Prince Thief being released when a new short story comes out - which wouldn't be such a surprise if it hadn't only been accepted a week ago.

This one's called Too Regular, and it's in issue #1 of Volume #2 of recent upstart magazine Lamplight, released this week. I've been known to refer to Too Regular, unhelpfully, as my 'not a werewolf story', and that probably sums it up as well as anything, while providing no useful information at all.  It follows bar owner Monty and his least regular of regular customers, a man named Charlie who shows his face but once a month.  Actually, I've more or less given the entire story away, but I think that's okay ... the story is not the thing with this one.

Which leads me to a confession.  Too Regular is an older tale, and one that's gone through some hefty changes to get to this point.  One of my frequent mistakes in my earlier days of writing was to think that a short story was simply an idea given form: convey the idea and you've told the story, and everything else - dialogue, character, setting - is merely in service to that. This, of course, is nonsense, and Too Regular turned out to be a great illustration of that fact. The idea at its heart is a fun one, but it's probably the least interesting aspect of what's in effect a character piece: a story about loneliness and the nature and requirements of friendship.  My first draft ended by sidelining all the character drama it had built up; my rewrite added a lengthy scene that reintroduced that drama and drew it to (what I hope is) a satisfying close. It wasn't a huge addition, barely a page, but it made all the difference.

Anyway, you can find Lamplight in all e-book formats on Smashwords here and Kindle only here; print copies will also be available in the near future from Amazon.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Prince Thief Out

Prince Thief, third and final of my Tales of Easie Damasco, came out in the UK today in print, e-book and audiobook, and has been out in the US in all formats for a week or so now.

So that's that.  One trilogy finished.  And honestly, if you'd told me three years ago that I'd be in this place right now, with three novels not only written but published, I'd have gawped at you with wide-eyed incredulity, but there it is.

Here's the blurb:

Altapasaeda, capital of the Castoval, is under siege by its own King - and Easie Damasco is trapped within the city's besieged walls.  Only Mounteban has a solution to offer.  Far to the north, rebels have set a bastard prince up as a figurehead.  If our heroes could kidnap this warlord-in-the-making, he might be used as a bargaining chip to end the war on both fronts.  Yet again, Damasco finds himself roped into a desperate scheme to preserve the Castoval, and events only grow more complicated as Damasco discovers that he and the disgruntled, rebellious teenage Prince have more in common than either of them would like to admit.

But if you've read the first two then hopefully all you really need to know is that Prince Thief wraps up the story that began in Giant Thief and continued in Crown Thief: the final fates of the Castoval, of Saltlick and Estrada and Alvantes and of course the irrepressible Mr Damasco, will be decided once and for all.  It's not going to be an easy ride, not everyone is going to walk away in one piece, and by the end, nothing will ever be the same again.

Oh, and there's an exploding ship.  Just saying.