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AGE OF IRON by Angus Watson

AGE OF IRON Angus Watson

Bloodthirsty druids and battle-hardened Iron Age warriors collide in the first volume of this action-packed historical fantasy trilogy.
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SYMBIONTMira Grant

The second terrifying novel in the Parasitology series by New York Times bestselling author Mira Grant!
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Brent Weeks Interviewed on THE WAY OF SHADOWS: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL

The much-anticipated graphic novel of THE WAY OF SHADOWS, the New York Times bestselling epic fantasy of thieves and assassins by Brent Weeks, comes out this week from Yen Press and Orbit UK.

We interviewed Brent about the process of turning his classic fantasy tale into a comic book, and asked him all about his favorite examples of the medium:

JH: Was there anything that surprised you about having your work adapted into comic book form?

BW: The first time I saw Andy’s depiction of the Gyre estate, I had to stop for a second. The rest of the process had been pretty gradual—when we did character sketches, we went through a lot of emails, and a couple iterations of drawings, so they didn’t have the same surprise factor for me—but when I saw the Gyre estate, it hit me all at once. I’d described all these details; this was what I’d written about, but I’d never seen it as a whole. When your artist is talented, there are things about seeing a place that are simply better than reading about it.

The other thing that surprised me was how much little things can matter. Andy does great work with characters’ expressions, hitting just the right tone. That little extra extension on that line turns that grin from amused to sarcastic, or what have you. Similarly, something like how tight an alleyway is, can suddenly be important, because a character in a tight alley feels trapped, and acts differently than in a wide open street.

JH: Which particular character do you think has been captured most perfectly by Andy Macdonald’s art?

BW: I’ll go for a less obvious one. Roth is just the right balance of handsome and creepy.

JH: Was it a strange experience, going back so closely over THE WAY OF SHADOWS, or do you often reread and re-examine your older books?

BW: As little as possible! I always want to edit my old books. Hmm, that sentence could be tightened, couldn’t it? It was very challenging. One of the pleasures of reading my books is that there’s a ton of foreshadowing that looks like throwaway world-building on a first read that ends up being important two thousand pages later. So I had to not only load three books into my brain, but I had to anticipate how each necessary change of adapting the first novel into graphic novel form would ripple through the second and third books. “Okay, this doesn’t happen any more, and that was going to pay off in book 2 when this happens, so now, in graphic novel 2, we’re going to have to do this other thing instead… But does that cause problems in book 3?” Oh, and I was finishing a not-so-simple little novel called THE BROKEN EYE. My assistant, Elisa, was invaluable in the process of keeping everything straight.

JH: Comics and graphic novels are an essentially collaborative medium, requiring a lot of co-operation between the artist and writer. Have you ever worked on something that involved this much collaboration?

BW: Never to this degree. We made a book trailer for THE BLACK PRISM, and I wrote lots of emails and script ideas back and forth (far more than you would think necessary for a two minute trailer, I guarantee!), but that was over about a month. This was a different level entirely.

I should point out, too, that it isn’t just collaboration between artist and writer! The original script adaptation was by Ivan Brandon, and throughout my editor JuYoun Lee was invaluable in the process, not only in feedback and scripting, but also in allowing me to be the difficult artist from time to time. I mean, editors have to make the business work, so a few times I wrote to her, “Look I just added a page to this chapter. I know we’re already over, but we need a full page for this reveal, or it will lack punch. Here’s the new script.” I’m sure she knew exactly how much that was going to cost—art costs, printing costs, extra thickness to the book, possibly fewer books per box which can hurt ordering, and so forth if you do it more than a couple times—and she let me get away with it when we needed to.

That said, I try not to play the diva, especially when it’s a medium I’ve got little experience in. I was lucky to be joined in the journey by people who know a lot more than I do.

JH: Who are your favourite heroes from comics and graphic novels?

BW: Can I confess something? I’ve always enjoyed comic books, but for a long time I had a fundamental reservation about them as art. I thought they were bad art. Partly this is the fault of the whole Death of Superman debacle. Since then (if not before, I’m not an expert), but since then they’ve felt like the ultimate playground for Plot Armor. No character will ever die. No character will ever settle down with one girl, and that’s it for all time. There’s no final story, no closure, even though they pretend there is constantly. And the reason there can be no final story is because money. You can’t kill Wolverine for good, because no matter how many copies of that final plot arc you could sell, you’d be killing the goose who lays the golden eggs. Wolverine is your year-in, year-out steady earner, and he will be for fifty years. A hundred if Marvel has its way. So the story has to account for reboots, and refreshes, memory-losses and reunions. (In some cases, they do that far better than others.)

So, to purist, younger me, comics in the Marvel vein were the biggest examples of art prostituted to money I could imagine. And yet they got a pass somehow—because it’s fun and well-done, I guess.

But I had an idea recently of Wolverine (a favorite since I was young), as a mythic character, rather than as a disjointed franchise. When you read Homer’s Odysseus, he’s a complete man, perhaps the ideal man in the Greek understanding of virtue. When you read Virgil’s treatment of the same character (Latinized to Ulysses, but ostensibly the same character), you realize they have very little in common. Virgil is trotting out the Greek hero to make him look tawdry next to the real stud, Aeneas. (Who just so happened to play for the home team, Rome.) They aren’t the same character—when Virgil handles Odysseus, he handles him as a mythic type, there to be useful in setting up the story that Virgil really wants to tell.

So when you ask “Who is your favorite character?” I have to politely say I don’t believe Wolverine as Wolverine is really a character anymore. Mark Millar’s Wolverine isn’t my favorite, but the idea of Wolverine is.

That said, things are simpler where we have only one writer and artist: I really like Bode and Tyler Locke of Locke and Key by Joe Hill (amazing art by Gabriel Rodriguez).

JH: Can you recommend any comic books which are ideal for fantasy fans?

BW: If you’ve never read a graphic novel and are skeptical about the kind of stories they can tell, check out I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly, which features a fifth-grader named Barbara.

Marvel’s 1602 is a fun re-visiting of the Marvel characters if they’d appeared in Elizabethan times (and goes nicely with my thesis above!). Locke and Key is a little more on the horror side, and though I don’t enjoy horror, I thought it was amazing. Literally the best graphic novels I’ve ever read. Peter V. Brett (of The Warded Man fame) has done a 6 comic book arc for Red Sonja. As for others… well, I’m always looking!

JH: The ultimate comic book question: who would win in a fight, Batman or Superman?

BW: I think Batman would know better than get in a simple fistfight with a bulletproof flying alien, so I like to think he’d change the rules of the engagement—a fight over who makes a tux look the best, perhaps, or who can destroy a villain first. Then I’d give an edge to the subtle thinker of the two.

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Interview: Brian Ruckley on writing epic fantasy, and his powerful new novel THE FREE

Next week sees the publication of THE FREE by Brian Ruckley, and marks the return of one of epic  fantasy’s prodigal sons.

Brian Ruckley burst upon the fantasy scene back in 2006 with WINTERBIRTH [UK / USA / ANZ], a novel that encapsulated the gritty, visceral style of storytelling that would become so popular in the fantasy genre a few years later.

WINTERBIRTH – along with its sequels, BLOODHEIR [UK / USA / ANZ] and FALL OF THANES [UK / USA / ANZ] – spun an epic tale of ancient feuds, deadly politics and devastating battles. These novels are notable for many qualities, not least their deep characterisation, absorbing worldbuilding and a highly evocative atmosphere.

After his brilliant and bloody tale had concluded, Brian delved into dark historical fantasy with THE EDINBURGH DEAD [UK / USA / ANZ] – a chilling supernatural crime novel set in Victorian-era Edinburgh.

Now, with THE FREE, Brian has returned to his epic fantasy roots and delivered an exhilarating novel full of desperate battles, terrifying magic, and a host of memorable characters.

We sat down with Brian – well, in a digital sense – and asked him about his return to epic fantasy.

Welcome Brian! THE FREE marks your return to writing heroic fantasy, after you dipped your toes into dark historical fantasy with THE EDINBURGH DEAD – how does it feel to be writing in this genre again, and what tempted you to return to it? 

It feels pretty good to be swimming in the heroic fantasy sea again. It’s a fun genre that gives you plenty of freedom to let your imagination run loose for a while, plenty of scope to go heavy on the action and the drama. THE EDINBURGH DEAD was always kind of a specific project for me: it’s a dark fantasy, but one very specifically set in my home city and tied to a specific, almost surreally horrible, bit of its real world history that I’ve always been interested in. THE FREE is just what it says in the title: it’s me being free again to do whatever I want, in terms of plot, world, characters, magic. All that good stuff. A couple of reviewers have already described it as ‘a blast to read’ and ‘a lot of fun to read’, which counts as job done to me, and just goes to show that if you’re having fun on the writing side, the readers can often tell.

Your Godless World trilogy was a sprawling fantasy epic in a similar vein to Game of Thrones, with a large cast-list and a healthy dose of political intrigue (not to mention plenty of bloody battles). THE FREE retains the same gritty quality of storytelling, but feels far more reminiscent of David Gemmell or Fritz Lieber, focusing on fewer characters and with an emphasis on fast-paced action. How and why did this stylistic change occur?

There are lots and lots of reasons for the change. Here’s a few, all mixed up. You don’t always get to choose what story idea is at the forefront of your mind, ready to be written. THE FREE was that idea a couple of years back, and it was pretty obvious that it wasn’t a sprawling epic; it just didn’t need thousands of pages to get to the very particular ending that was built in to the idea. I’d be lying if I pretended to be disappointed about that. Sprawling fantasy epics are all well and good – they’re what made me a fan of the genre, after all, back in my younger days – but it’s a pretty demanding and draining business to write one. Anyway, the older I get as a reader the more I find I like my fiction to-the-point, with momentum. It takes slightly different writing muscles than the epic does, and for whatever reason I had a sense that I needed to give those different muscles a work-out.

Also, it’s partly because: movies. But we’ll get to that in the next question. Read the rest of this entry »

PRESS RELEASE: Sunday Times Bestseller Jenny Colgan Signs Up 2-book Deal With Orbit

Please see below for an exciting press release from Orbit UK!

Orbit UK, the science fiction and fantasy imprint of Little, Brown Book Group, has signed a deal with Sunday Times bestselling author Jenny Colgan for two new novels, described as “Bridget Jones meets The Big Bang Theory meets Independence Day”.

Jenny Colgan aka J T Colgan author photo - her lastest book RESISTANCE IS FUTILE is out in 2015Jenny Colgan is the bestselling author of over sixteen novels including Little Beach Street Bakery, Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop of Dreams and Meet Me at the Cupcake Café. Her last four novels have all been Sunday Times Top Ten paperback bestsellers.

Tim Holman, Publisher at Orbit acquired UK & Commonwealth rights from the Jo Unwin Literary Agency. The first Orbit novel Resistance is Futile will be published in June 2015 under the pseudonym J.T. Colgan, the same name under which Jenny has also written the Doctor Who tie-in novel Dark Horizons and Doctor Who short story Into the Nowhere. The story focusses on the young mathematician Connie, who is recruited to work on a top secret government project along with an oddball bunch of scientists.

Tim Holman said “The whole Orbit team loved RESISTANCE IS FUTILE. How could we not love a novel that blends aliens and romance and jokes about prime numbers? We’re thrilled to be publishing Jenny, and hugely looking forward to introducing her to SF fans and readers keen to get in touch with their inner geek”.

Jenny Colgan said, “Han and Leia. Claire and Henry. Supes and Lois. I have always been an absolute sucker for a sci-fi romance, and the chance to write one for a list as innovative, successful and inclusive as Orbit is a total joy. I’m so excited to get the chance to share Connie and Luke with the world. He totally doesn’t have a tail though.”

New Short Fiction: FOOL’S GOLD by Jaye Wells!

SABINA KANE IS BACK in a brand new novella from USA TODAY bestselling author Jaye Wells.

In the 1970s, Sabina Kane was a rookie assassin looking for first big kill. But when the day finally comes to prove her skills to the Dominae, she finds herself shadowing Slade Corbin, a more experienced assassin with a huge chip on his shoulder. Together, they must track down a blackmailer who’s threatening to expose the existence of vampires to the world. Will Sabina and Slade be able to find the blackmailer in time, and, more important, will they be able to get through the mission without killing each other?

And in case you haven’t been yet met Sabina, here are stellar some introductions to the Jaye Wells series that started with Red-Headed Stepchild:

“Hold on tight — a gritty new heroine has joined the pantheon of shoot-first, ask-questions-later protagonists.”
RT Book Reviews on Red-Headed Stepchild

“Fast-paced and fun!” — Charlaine Harris, New York Times bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse series on Red-Headed Stepchild

“Urban fantasy doesn’t get much better than this. ”
— scifichick.com on Red-Headed Stepchild

“Jaye Wells is the next coming of Laurell K. Hamilton and Kim Harrison.” — Paul Goat Allen, bn.com, on Green-Eyed Demon

“Wells hits the sweet spot in combining wise-ass humor and mind-numbing danger. It’s outstanding!”
RT Book Reviews Top Pick on Blue-Blooded Vamp

FOOL’S GOLD released today in the U.S. and Canada. It will be available next week in the U.K!

The eagerly-awaited ANCILLARY SWORD is here!

ANCILLARY SWORD (US | UK | AUS) the highly anticipated sequel to Ann Leckie’s breakout success ANCILLARY JUSTICE (US | UK | AUS), is released today. Ancillary Justice won every major science fiction award of 2014 and was the only novel every to win the Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke awards.

Not often does a writer debut with a work that makes such an immediate impact and Ann’s second book is everything a fan of the first book could hope for. Broiling civil war, a fraught mission to a vital and dangerous planet, a tangled web of politics and class, and mysterious and powerful forces encroaching on the domain of the empire. Simply put, this is a writer at the peak of her powers.

I’ve been waiting excitedly for the day when I could finally share Ann’s next brilliant novel. If you read Ancillary Justice then chances are you loved it and have been looking forward to Ancillary Sword as well, if you have yet to fall under the spell of Ann and Ancillary Justice, I envy you greatly. Don’t delay.

A little bit more about the novel:

Breq is a soldier who used to be a warship. Once a weapon of conquest controlling thousands of minds, now she has only a single body and serves the emperor.

With a new ship and a troublesome crew, Breq is ordered to go to the only place in the galaxy she would agree to go: to Athoek Station to protect the family of a lieutenant she once knew – a lieutenant she murdered in cold blood.

Praise for Ancillary Sword:

“Breq’s struggle for meaningful justice in a society designed to favor the strong is as engaging as ever. Readers new to the author will be enthralled, and those familiar with the first book will find that the faith it inspired has not been misplaced.” – Publisher’s Weekly

“Leckie proves she’s no mere flash in the pan with this follow-up to her multiaward-winning debut space opera, Ancillary Justice.” – Kirkus

And here is a wonderful 10 out of 10 endorsement from The Book Smugglers!

THE FALCON THRONE – “Blood, dirt and backstabbing”

We recently released THE FALCON THRONE – the  new offering from the million-copy bestselling fantasy author Karen Miller.  It’s been a real honour working with Karen on this novel – it’s epic, exciting, tragic and genuinely made me gasp out loud at certain points . . . And it’s now a joy to see the fabulous reviews which have been coming in for it, showing how much other people have been enjoying it too. Check out what people are saying below.

Blood, dirt and backstabbing . . . impressively elaborate and detailed . . . this dark world will draw you in – SCIFINOW

‘A truly epic read full of intrigue and betrayal anchored in wonderful characters – some I loved and some I loathed, but all I wanted to know more about. Whether it’s combat, politics or human interaction Karen Miller is on the money. Loved it‘ – John Gwynne

Complex and engrossing; fans of George R.R. Martin and Joe Abercrombie should particularly take note’ – PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

It will entrap you and hold you captive, you will look up from its pages to discover you have lost hours – APN NETWORK

The sheer scope and genius of this series dazzles . . . stylistically brilliant’ – SPECULATING ON SPECFIC

Excellent writing, amazing characters, intricate woven plotlines, and lots and lots of blood, most of that unfortunately spurting from the wrong people. No elves or dragons, but some of the most in-depth world-building I’ve ever read, and the heroes (and anti-heroes) could shake themselves off the page. This book drew me in with the opening sentence and held me until the end . . . I remain breathless from the read. – LIBRARY THING

Fans of George R.R. Martin, Robert Jordan and other such writers of epic fantasy will find much to like here . . . a compelling read – READING LARK

Angus Watson

Angus Watson, author of debut epic fantasy AGE OF IRON – the first book in a rip-roaring trilogy of Iron Age warriors fighting off the Roman invasion of Britain, outlines five moments in history which could have gone very differently . . .

We should all be speaking Latin.

Julius Caesar’s first British invasion force in 55BC was the same size as William the Conqueror’s in 1066 – around 10,000 men. It stayed in Britain for just a few weeks. The second one in 54BC was two and a half times the size, but it returned to France after a few months. No Roman legionary set foot in Britain after that for a hundred years.

The accepted historical take of Caesar’s invasions is that the Romans won every battle and returned across the Channel victorious, twice. This version comes entirely from Caesar’s own diary and is clearly absolute bollocks. He didn’t come to Britain with 25,000 soldiers for a summer holiday and he didn’t leave because he was winning too much. He intended to conquer. He should have been able to. His army had overthrown all of France in two years. Something big happened to stop him.

My Orbit trilogy AGE OF IRON is a fictional, fantastical account of how an unlikely gang of Brits united to hand Caesar’s invincible arse to him. Had Caesar’s invasions succeeded, then the Romans would have had Britain for a hundred years longer. The extra resources might have enabled Rome to conquer all of Germany, Arabia and then the rest of the world, and the Roman Empire might never have fallen . . .

This blog post looks at four other events in history that really should have gone the other way, resulting in a completely different world today. Read the rest of this entry »

Age of Iron: What They’re Saying (the Twitter Edition)

Not only have you been filling your blogs with praise for AGE OF IRON, but twitter has been full of love for this action-packed and darkly humorous fantasy debut! Here’s just a sample of your tweets:

What They’re Saying: Age of Iron

This month we released AGE OF IRON, a mega epic fantasy debut by stunning new British talent Angus Watson, and it seems bloggers are loving this one just as much as we do!

‘This debut is a whole heap of frenetic chaos, and is thoroughly entertaining from the get go … ferocious, unashamedly adult, fun with some fantastic characters and some great action packed moments.’ The Eloquent Page

‘A very down and dirty, gripping, enjoyable read. It is dark, twisted, funny and exciting.’ Tenacious Reader

‘AGE OF IRON brilliantly weaves the elements of history, fantasy, action and humor in this gripping novel. This is a solid must read for epic fantasy fans. I simply cannot wait to meet Dug, Lowa and Spring in the next installment. Say It With Books

‘The acid test is would I read the next one? Yes, absolutely. Bring me my hammer, bring my beer, bring it on.’ SF Crowsnest

‘Lots of action and adventure with some dark humour thrown in.  I found myself throughout the story often sitting with a grin on my face, or even chuckling to myself.’ Opinionated Cupcakes

‘AGE OF IRON packs quite a punch. If you like your fantasy action-packed, drenched in gore, dressed up with some black gallows humor – and revealing quite a bit about an age we know nothing about, then AGE OF IRON is right up your alley.’ Smorgasbord Fantasia

‘I absolutely loved AGE OF IRON. I raced through the novel and didn’t want to put it down. Each of the characters had something endearing which means that there’s not a chapter that feels like a waste. I would recommend this to history fans and readers who are looking for a read with strong female characters.’ A Universe in Words

‘Watson brings the setting to life vividly and his writing is entertaining and gripping. It really is a fantastic debut.’ Chicks That Read

Huge congratulations to Angus Watson on his absolutely stellar debut novel! You can follow Angus on Twitter for all the latest news about the Iron Age series, and pick up your copy of AGE OF IRON from all good bookshops and online retailers.

New Short Fiction: PACK by Lilith Saintcrow

If you’ve been waiting on the edge of your seat for the latest from urban fantasy star, Lilith Saintcrow, wait no more! PACK, a brand new e-only standalone, is now available.

When the world falls apart, Lydia knows all you need is a gun and a dog. Unfortunately, she’s going to find out that’s not quite enough…

If you’re a fan of the Dante Valentine and Jill Kismet books, this urban fantasy should be on your must-read list. It’s also a great entry point work if you haven’t had the chance to sink your teeth into one of Lilith Saintcrow’s book’s yet.

And just in case you need another reason to check out this latest from Lilith Saintcrow, see what others have had to say about this master of urban fantasy!

“No one does gritty and paranormal better than Saintcrow.” — RT Book Reviews (Top Pick)

“She’s fabulous. ”  — Christine Feehan

“What’s not to love? Fans of Laurel K. Hamilton should warm to Saintcrow’s dark evocative debut.”
—Publishers Weekly

If the Victorian era is more your style, check out Lilith Saintcrow’s THE IRON WYRM AFFAIR and the rest of the Bannon & Clare series – available in print and e-book.

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