Category: Guest Post
by January 20th, 2011-
The Fallen Blade came out of a single image in my head of an impossibly-beautiful boy chained naked in darkness to the bulkhead of a ship. He snapped awake to reveal amber-flecked and inhuman eyes. The ship was in the Venetian lagoon and I realised the boy knew no more about himself than I did.
That gave me Tycho, although I didn’t then know what species of inhuman he was or what origin story lead him to being the first Vampire into Europe and the survivor of the last Viking outpost in North America.
After ten SF novels I realised I was about to write fantasy!
Venetian first, Christian second…The Venetians had no hesitation living up to that maxim. They transported Crusaders to the Middle East, but called ahead to protect their Middle Eastern trade deals by telling those living there that the western armies were coming. Half of Venice is built from bits looted from elsewhere. The Duke’s palace and cathedral alone use pillars stolen from mosques, synagogues and other churches. As a people the Venetians were treacherous, avaricious and two-faced and proud of it! You don’t get to build a thousand year empire and become the richest trading power in the Mediterranean by playing nice.
It’s cliché to say Venice is a fantasy in itself and there’s something unworldly about its atmosphere, that it’s a city of sex and death hiding its darkness under all that glitz and glitter, but it really is. The damn thing’s been standing in that lagoon for centuries and dying and fighting a watery death for every one of them. And I defy anyone to go there and not feel ghosts are watching.
How could I resist it as a location for a fantasy novel? Read the rest of this entry »
by January 18th, 2011-
People have asked over the years how I write and I’ve replied with everything from 200 word bullet-point heavy ‘This-Is-How-I-Do-Its’, to 5000 words academic walk throughs covering initial inspiration to delivered script.
Every writer is different. A friend of mine writes 500 perfect words a day and never revises or goes back. No idea how he does it and wouldn’t want to try. Another friend is cross because she can’t get her output up from two novels a year to three. (I work seven day weeks to manage one).
All my books come out of a single image. In The Fallen Blade it was Tycho chained naked to the bulkhead of a ship. He opened his eyes and proved he wasn’t human. After that, it was a simply a case of working back to see where he’d come from and working forward to see where he was going. When writing I see the places in my head and hear the words spoken. Without that I couldn’t do it. Read the rest of this entry »
by January 6th, 2011-
I’ve been writing and publishing novels for a while. In some ways, I approach the ups and downs of my writing career with a weary resignation, knowing that a great writing day can as easily be followed by a terrible writing day as by another good one, that a gushingly positive review may spark a new reader to pick up the book only to dislike it, that I may struggle with doubt one week and be sure everything is going well the next. I still get a thrill when I first see the new cover for a soon-to-be published novel, and I never get bored of coming up with new ideas, characters, and landscapes.
Yet here is a first for me, one that left me speechless with surprise and glee but mostly because I was too busy eating and savoring to talk:
A fabulous reader who loves to bake sent me a box of home-made cookies as a thank you for my book Cold Magic. One batch was scrumptious double chocolate chip cookies.
But just to make the entire experience even more full of squee, the other batch was a cookie she invented herself in honor of Cold Magic.
That’s right. There is now a Cold Magic cookie, created by Raina Storer.
With Raina’s permission, I am sharing the recipe and photo with you, just in time for the winter baking season. It is a refrigerator sugar cookie, rolled with chocolate mint filling, and glazed with a white piped frosting and icy blue sprinkles, and it is unbelievably tasty as well as beautiful. Read the rest of this entry »
by January 3rd, 2011-
I’ve taught creative writing courses for a couple of years now, and one of the things that I come across quite a bit is the “perfect” character, a flawless force or presence that reacts effortlessly (and often without reflection) to the world around them. They’re usually an assassin, or a PI or a robot warrior PI Assassin. What they usually aren’t is interesting.
I like my characters to be, well … I like them flawed and messy. I like them troubled. I like them to worry about all the sort of stuff that I worry about or their equivalent: the everyday things that assault as thoroughly as any supernatural force. A good hero or heroine has to* be “human” first. When you’re writing fantasy, in which everything is heightened and weighted with myth and grandeur it’s easy to forget that it’s heightened reality (of a sort). Read the rest of this entry »
by January 1st, 2011-
I read Patton Oswalt’s dissection of geek culture the other day, and I’ve had some mixed feelings about it. He’s going to catch a lot of hell of it, that I can tell, but really, I think he’s not wrong. He’s mostly right, in fact. I just think that he doesn’t assess the real danger of geek culture, nor does he prescribe an appropriate response.
Personally, I’ve always had a touch-and-go relationship with geek culture, if you can believe it. In my family, I’m definitely the geekiest, I’d say. I’m the guy who’s On The Internet All The Time, dredging up obscure memes and silly trends and finding the most bizarre articles to send to people during slow work hours. I’m also the guy who is sometimes unapologetically geeky in my tastes. Yes, I had Hellboy comics on my Christmas list. I also had Avatar: the Last Airbender DVDs, and I asked for Windows 7 so that maybe I can fix my laptop up to play Portal 2. (A pipe dream if ever there was one.)
These tastes are geeky. But if you asked me if I was a geek, I’m not sure I’d say I am.
Part of it is that I’m a coward.
Read the rest of this entry »
by December 21st, 2010-
Well, it’s that time of year again: the shadows lengthen, the temperatures dip even further, and the night sky seems blacker than ever. As always, this is the time for rituals. Soon we’ll engage in bonfires, feasts, and all manner of merriment against the creeping dark.
But there is one champion of this merriment who’s been slighted by modernity. Just as we determinedly pull all the teeth from fairy tales, removing any trace of murder, sacrifice, and sex, this same enthusiastic censorship has made a victim of Santa Claus. Or, depending on where you are, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, Papa Noel, or any number of other seasonal titles.
We all have a general concept of Santa Claus. He is a fat, jolly old man who travels the world on Christmas Eve delivering presents to all the good boys and girls of the world. But this is far from the real Santa, who is forgotten, but not gone. The real Santa – or, perhaps better, the figure who inspired him – is not the commercialized, jovial octogenarian we now see on every can of Coke at the store. Rather, he is a Yule-being of considerable power, and he has his own history that is surprisingly more fantastic and primitive than most would expect. Let’s contrast our current beliefs about Santa with the original. Read the rest of this entry »
by December 10th, 2010-
As we head towards Christmas in Brisbane things start to heat up, the air shimmers with heat and humidity as though the sky itself is sweating. Dark clouds build on the horizon in the afternoon and tremendous storms strike the city, cooling everything down, but only briefly. Read the rest of this entry »
by December 6th, 2010-
Jesse Petersen is the author of MARRIED WITH ZOMBIES and the forthcoming FLIP THIS ZOMBIE. Like many of us here at Orbit HQ, she’s also a fan of The Walking Dead on AMC. She’ll be offering recaps of each week’s episode here every Monday. This post will contain SPOILERS (also zombies). For previous recaps see 1.01 , 1.02, , 1.03, 1.04, and 1.05.
Wow, I can’t believe how fast these six episodes have flown by, yet here we are at the finale for the first fantabulous season of “The Walking Dead” on AMC. I’d love to hear what you zombiephiles thought of it and how excited you are for Season 2 (even thought we have to wait until NEXT OCTOBER to see the second 13 episodes, dab nabbit!). Read the rest of this entry »
by November 29th, 2010-
Jesse Petersen is the author of MARRIED WITH ZOMBIES and the forthcoming FLIP THIS ZOMBIE. Like many of us here at Orbit HQ, she’s also a fan of The Walking Dead on AMC. She’ll be offering recaps of each week’s episode here every Monday. This post will contain SPOILERS (also zombies). For previous recaps see 1.01 , 1.02, , 1.03, and 1.04.
Hello zombie fans!
When last we left off Rick and some of the gang had gone back to Atlanta to get the guns and try to rescue Dixon. Instead they found Dixon’s severed hand and some vatos who turned out to be not so bad. Dixon stole their car, they had to walk back and zombies attacked the camp, killing a bunch of people. Also, I ate too much turkey and strained a muscle in my back (not related to the turkey eating, at least I don’t think). So here we go with…
The Walking Dead 1.05: Wildfire Read the rest of this entry »
by November 24th, 2010-
I am, I confess it here, a genre slut; I have loved many genres, and though I currently spend most of my days in the fabulous and exotic terrain of science fiction and fantasy fiction, I still occasionally sneak out and enter other genres.
Romance, for instance. I don’t claim to be well-read in the romance genre, but I will admit to having indulged, from time to time, in a passion for passion. The main object of my affection was Maeve Binchy – who writes Irish feel-good sagas about community life with lashings of romantic cliches. And who is also, by the way, one of the greatest storytellers of our age, up there with Stephen King. I’ve also read the Welsh novels of Iris Gower, the Regency romances of Georgette Heyer and the superbly evocative tales of Catherine Cookson, the great mistress of grit-lit plus, well, quite a few others that were dreadful but I enjoyed them anyway.
Crime was once my profession (as a writer and script editor for TV crime dramas) and also my hobby. I love bleak noir, locked room mysteries, nostalgic period detective stories, and modern police procedurals. My favourite crime writers are Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Rex Stout, Carl Hiaasen, Donald E. Westlake AND Richard Stark…and many more. Crime is a great genre; it gives us a chance to wallow in evil and still feel good about ourselves. Nowadays, I haven’t the time to read much new crime fiction (apart from the excellent Stieg Larssons) but evil-wallowing continues to be my favourite pastime, expressed in, ahem, other ways. Read the rest of this entry »