- - October 27th, 2015
This summer, we ran our first ever Orbit Fantasy Writing Workshop. It was led by the million-copy bestselling author Karen Miller, and we’re pleased to say it was a great success. We had an enthusiastic response from writers taking up the challenge to write 2,000 words of a fantasy novel in one week, and a large number of these participants also submitted their sample to our writing competition at the end of the week.
We were superbly impressed with the quality of submissions we received. All of them showed promise, and we can honestly say that we enjoyed every sample we read. The judging process proved very tricky, but the Orbit Editorial Team and Karen Miller have now picked their winner.
Congratulations to S. M. White from Louisville, Kentucky, who has won the competition with his submission “The Broken Door”.
We were all thoroughly captivated by this sample. It tells the tale of Kirren – a soldier who has been set to watch over the gates of his city and guard against the demons that wait outside. When a battle-worn stranger appears at the walls, demanding to be let in, Kirren refuses – as he has been ordered to open the gates to no one. But when the stranger outside is attacked by a demon, Kirren must decide whether to obey his orders, or give into his compassion by aiding his fellow man…
This sample fulfilled the writing challenge that Karen had set of writing about a moral dilemma – and it did it in style.
The prize S. M. White will receive is a number of editorial consultations with an Orbit editor and Karen Miller herself on this sample and further sections of his complete novel.
We have also informed a small number of competition entrants about being on the final shortlist, and they will all be receiving free copies of Karen Miller’s novel THE FALCON THRONE (US |UK | AUS).
For all those who took part but didn’t win – please don’t be disheartened. The quality of everything we received was high, and we hope that you’re going to keep plugging away, because writing is all about sticking at it!
We’re hoping to run another Orbit Fantasy Writing Workshop in future, so please do look out for that. In the meantime, for more writing inspiration, follow Karen Miller on her site at www.karenmiller.net
- - October 23rd, 2015
Yesterday, Barnes & Noble’s Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog released the cover of ROADSIDE MAGIC by Lilith Saintcrow, which will be out in January 2016. This is this second novel in the Robin and Gallow series by Lilith Saintcrow in which the faery world inhabits diners, dive bars and trailer parks. If you were fan of the first novel, Trailer Park Fae, we know you’ll be blown away by this one! ROADSIDE MAGIC (US | UK | AUS) was designed by Lauren Panepinto with art by Dos Santos.
Robin Ragged has revenge to wreak and redemption to steal. As for Jeremiah Gallow, the poison in his wound is slowly killing him, while old friends turn traitor and long-lost enemies return to haunt him.
In the dive bars and trailer parks, the sidhe are hunting. War looms, and on a rooftop in the heart of the city, the most dangerous sidhe of all is given new life. This new hunter has only one thought: Where is the Ragged?
Praise for TRAILER PARK FAE (US | UK | AUS):
“Beautiful and bloodcurdling. Honestly, I wish I’d written it.” — Chuck Wendig
“Creepy and heroic by turns. I could not put it down.” — Patricia Briggs
“Painfully honest, beautifully strange…. Don’t miss this.” — Seanan McGuire
- - October 21st, 2015
Couldn’t get enough of George and Shaun? Neither could we — which is why we’re bringing out a collection of novellas set in the Newsflesh universe! Rise collects for the first time every piece of short fiction from Mira Grant’s acclaimed Newsflesh series, with two new never-before-published novellas. Rise will be publishing next summer in hardcover, e-book, and audio formats.
Creative Director Lauren Panepinto has worked on the the Newsflesh series since the beginning, and each cover has been more chilling than the last. We’re sure you’ll agree that Rise is a feast for the eyes. Now without further ad0, we present Rise in all its gritty, gory majesty.
“Mira Grant’s books are some of the hardest for me to design covers for, because I’m such a fangirl of the books. I know you’re not supposed to have favorite children, but let’s just say I’d be a fan of her books even if I had never worked for Orbit. And I love talking to her about her stories and the thought process behind them. The author said she cried (happy tears) when she first saw the Feed cover, and you know, that’s a hard act to follow. Clearly I’m piling the pressure on myself. Add that to the fact that her series style is all about design, which is just me, without any artist or photographer to share the spotlight (or hide behind). To this stress layer cake add the fact that I’m really proud of how Feed, Deadline, and Blackout came out, and I was very happy we were able to keep the theme strong through all three covers. Those covers have become pretty iconic for the genre, and I was very happy to have them safely squared away and move on to her next trilogy — which was also stressful because I felt like I had to one-up myself. Now, to go back and reopen the Newsflesh look was scarier than a pack of zombies (see what I did there?), but I really like how the cover for Rise has come out, and how it fits in with the rest of the series. It’s a little bit different – and it’s in hardcover, which affects the look too — but I’ve had a cover mockup on my shelf for a while next to the Newsflesh books and they seem to be getting along pretty well. It was really important to keep things really graphic and really simple, with a little bit of an off note. I think we achieved that. I can’t wait to have the final book in my hands!”―Lauren Panepinto
Don’t think you can wait that long? Pre-order Chimera today:
Remember Mira Grant fans, we’re only a few short weeks away from publication of Chimera, the third and final book in the Parasitology trilogy. Chimera releases on November 24th. Pre-order your copy today so you can dive right in over the Thanksgiving holiday and avoid the Black Friday shopping madness, which I hear is…killer.
Pre-order in the US: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Google Play | Indiebound | iBooks | Kobo | Indigo (Canada)
Pre-order in the UK: Amazon | Waterstones | iBooks | Kobo | iTunes | Google Play | Little Brown UK
- - October 20th, 2015
After two UK tours*, appearances at Comic Con, an online scavenger hunt and more sinister pronouncements about the dog park than you can ever imagine, WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE: A NOVEL is released into the wild today. The City Council advises that you run, do not walk, to your nearest bookshop immediately.
If you’re quick you can still get a copy of the Waterstones exclusive edition, and Amazon has also chosen Night Vale as their Deal of the Week. Bookshops across the UK and Australia will be hanging these ritual adornments in their windows and making the traditional stone circle sacrifices, so our oracles predict that Night Vale will be welcoming lots of new visitors today.
Our oracles offer no information on whether said new visitors will ever be allowed to leave.
Here you can listen to a sample of the audiobook (out now!) which is read by no less than Night Vale’s own signature voice actor Cecil Baldwin, plus a host of guest stars and co-conspirators:
The authors were interviewed by the New York Times yesterday and also talked about the book on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last week. Although it’s not aired in the UK or Australia, you can watch the clip here:
You can buy WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE: A NOVEL in ebook, audiobook and print today.
*ANZ fans will be pleased to hear that an Australia/New Zealand tour is planned for February 2016.
- - October 19th, 2015
We interviewed Julia Knight, author of the Duellists trilogy. The first book, SWORDS AND SCOUNDRELS (UK|US|ANZ) is out this month. It’s a fast and furious fantasy adventure about two siblings, Kacha and Vocho, who are known for the finest swordplay in their kingdom – until they are dishonoured and forced to become reluctant highwaymen. The sequels LEGENDS AND LIARS (UK|US|ANZ) and WARLORDS AND WASTRELS (UK|US|ANZ) will follow in November and December 2015.
What was the inspiration behind SWORDS AND SCOUNDRELS?
Lots of things! I was reading a lot about post-Moorish Spain – which was inspiration for the fallen empire in the book – and Renaissance Italy, which inspired all the city states that are at each other’s throats. Then add to this a re-reading of the Musketeers, and my happening across a video for an architect’s design for a clockwork city and….hey presto!
Which was your favourite character to write?
That is a really hard question, as I love them all in different ways. Vocho was a blast to write, because he’s just so vain and unintentionally funny but he does have a heart too (when he remembers). I like Kacha because she takes no crap from anyone, especially Vocho. Petri was supposed to be the bad guy . . . but I found I rather felt for his predicament . . .
Who really is the better duellist – Kacha or Vocho?!
Depends on who you ask . . . As Vocho says, she’s better at technique, but he has an advantage in strength and reach. Both are devious as required. I’d say they both have their strengths but that balances out so they are actually fairly evenly matched.
Where’s your favourite bookshop?
I’m going to cheat and say it’s a toss up between Forbidden Planet in London and my local Waterstones in Horsham, West Sussex. Forbidden Planet because I cannot leave without buying *something* and it is just so very cool. And my local Waterstones because it’s got everything – a café, squishy sofas, staff that really know their books (and are more than happy to chat about them, or help me find something). It also has a decent SFF section which brings me on to the next question…
When you walk into a bookshop which section do you gravitate to first?
I always gravitate to the SFF section first in any bookshop. However I do have a soft spot for other genres – historical (both fiction and non-fiction) and crime in particular, so once I’ve mined the SFF I tend to browse there too. Frankly I’ll read almost anything!
What we can expect from the next Duellists novel LEGENDS AND LIARS?
Dastardly magicians, dashing duellists and warring cities. It gets deeper into the characters, and darker too, though it’s still got plenty of light-hearted moments . . .
- - October 16th, 2015
Earlier this year we digitally released the first two novels in The Lazarus War series by Jamie Sawyer: ARTEFACT (UK | US | ANZ) and LEGION (UK | US | ANZ). And now we’re excited to show you the cover for a novella set in the same world: REDEMPTION (UK | US | ANZ), coming at the start of November.
This series is just so gripping and addictive (and geniunely makes me want to do fist pumps in the air at points…) It’s all about a soldier called Conrad Harris and his Simulant Operation team. They’re an elite military force who fight battles in space using avatars that they operate remotely – and they’re all that stands between humanity and a hostile alien race.
This series is just perfect if you’re a fan of films like Alien and The Edge of Tomorrow and books like James S. A. Corey’s Expanse series. It’s had high praise indeed from some big names in science fiction:
‘Gripping, gritty and unsentimental – Sawyer shows us how perilous future war can be’ – Michael Cobley, author of the Humanity’s Fire series
‘Artefact is a gripping read that moves at warp speed’ – Jack Campbell, author of THE LOST FLEET novels
‘A hostile race of alien biomechs somewhat in the mould of H R Giger aliens . . . terrorism, subterfuge and traitors . . . starships sporting particle beam weapons, railguns the size of skyscrapers … Is that enough for you? . . . This, dear readers, is the good stuff. Recommended’ – Neal Asher, author of the Agent Cormac novels
‘Hyper-speed entertainment from a new master of science fiction’ – William C. Dietz, author of the Legion novels and HALO tie-in novels
‘A highly promising science fiction debut – a fun, gripping adventure story, with a mystery at its core that kept me turning the pages’ Gary Gibson, author of STEALING LIGHT
The new novella REDEMPTION can be read as a stand-alone story, but it’s also perfect to read after you’ve finished ARTEFACT and LEGION and are waiting for book three, which we release next year.
It’s about Taniya Coetzer – chief engineer of the transport ship Edison, which is on a cargo run to the military outpost Liberty Point. Taniya is also an ex-convict with a secret, and she’s hoping to make peace with her estranged mother when they reach the Point. But this meeting will be disrupted when a disaster strikes the space station, and the crew of the Edison suddenly find themselves fighting for their lives . . . It’s a gripping story, brilliantly written, and will make you see the world of the Lazarus War in a whole new light.
Also, if you’re not a fan of reading digitally but want to find out what the Lazarus War is all about, you might be interested to hear we’re releasing the whole series in print next year, starting from February 2016.
- - October 15th, 2015
At the start of November, we are launching something brand new from Claire North – author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling novels The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August and Touch.
Enter the world of the Gameshouse, a world where the best players compete secretly not just for riches – but for political power, for the control of kingdoms, for their very lives… These are the tales of The Serpent (UK|US|ANZ), The Thief (UK|US|ANZ) and The Master (UK|US|ANZ).
The Gameshouse novellas are three digital stories that can be read separately, but which also fit together to make a complete, intricately woven tale.
These stories are thrilling, so rich and beautifully crafted. They’re a perfect example of how Claire’s stories are breathtaking in scope but also painfully intimate. If you’re a fan of her previous novels then we know you’ll love these stories – and they’re also a great way to sample her writing for the first time.
See below for the blurb for the first novella, The Serpent:
In seventeenth century Venice exists a mysterious establishment known only as the Gameshouse.
There, fortunes are made and broken over games of chess, backgammon and every other game under the sun.
But those whom fortune favours may be invited to compete in the higher league . . . a league where the games played are of politics and empires, of economics and kings. It is a league where Capture the Castle involves real castles, where hide and seek takes place on a scale as big as the British Isles.
Not everyone proves worthy of competing in the higher league. But one woman who is about to play may just exceed everyone’s expectations.
Though she must always remember: the higher the stakes, the more deadly the rules . . .
All three titles will be released digitally at the start of November 2015, and are available for pre-order now. They will also be available as a complete volume in audiobook.
- - October 8th, 2015
Hey Comic Con attendees, are you ready for another great weekend full of cosplay, panels, and enough caffeine to fell a dragon? We sure are! Check out our list of panels and events below. We also have a number of show-specials occurring throughout the weekend, but you’ll have to stop by booth #2218* for the full details. See you at the show!
4:00 PM – 5:20 PM: “The Expanse Screening/Q&A” in the Pepsi Perfect Theater – 1A06
4:15 PM – 5:15 PM: “Fantasy Draft League with Sam Sykes”, author of THE CITY STAINED RED, Room 1B03
2:00 PM – 2:30 PM: Sam Sykes signing in booth (#2218) of THE CITY STAINED RED.
2:45 PM – 3:45 PM: “Calling All Geeks!” with Max Wirestone, author of THE UNFORTUNATE DECISIONS OF DAHLIA MOSS, Room 1A21
*If you’re having trouble finding us, we’re listed as Hachette Book Group in the official guide.
- - September 25th, 2015
We interviewed Angus Watson, author of the Iron Age trilogy. Angus debuted last year with the action-packed historical fantasy adventure AGE OF IRON. The final book in the trilogy, REIGN OF IRON, comes out this month.
What would be your quick pitch for the Iron Age trilogy?
Buy this book or I’ll drown these baby raccoons. Not really! AGE OF IRON is the best adventure story set in the Iron Age that you will ever read. Although younger readers might be better off with the Asterix books.
The final book in the series comes out this month, how does it feel to have completed the series?
I loved school and was sad to leave, but also looking forward to the next adventures. Finishing AGE OF IRON after around five years’ work feels like that. I used to think it was pretentious and a lie when authors said that characters had become their friends, but, annoyingly, it is rather like that when you spend days, weeks then months and even years sitting at your desk with only these made up people for company (and, in my case, two cats).
So, wanky as it sounds, I’m genuinely sad to leave old friends when we’ve been through so much together. However, I’m looking forward to meeting new people in the next trilogy and I daresay that some of my old friends, or at least parts of them, will be reincarnated.
And how does it feel to see the amazing reactions the book is getting?
It feels brilliant. Like spending ages on a project and then walking into a big room full of people telling you how much they like it and how well you’ve done. The odd bad review I’ve received is the opposite of that – like someone walking up to you and telling you that you’re an idiot. Luckily there aren’t enough of those yet to fill a big room, or even a small one.
Which character did you most enjoy writing?
Probably Dug, because he could say or think whatever the badger’s balls he wanted to.
Who are your biggest influences?
Douglas Adams, Joe Abercrombie, Patrick O’Brian, Scott Lynch, Carl Hiaasen, Iain Banks, Thomas Hardy and my Mum.
When you walk into a bookshop which section do you gravitate to first?
I buy pretty much all books online, so I’m most likely to be in a bookshop to meet a friend (note to everyone, especially internet daters – bookshops are great places to meet before pub, dinner or whatever). I used to go straight to the comic / graphic novel section so that I’d have a chance to read a substantial part of something before whoever turned up. Now I go to the fantasy section to make sure that my books are displayed prominently enough.
Where’s your favorite bookshop?
The Waterstones in Westfield, Shepherd’s Bush, London. Westfield is a vast shopping center full of the dreariest, see-them-everywhere, uninspiring, unchallenging clothes shops you can imagine. Waterstones may be a chain, but, since it sells books, it stands out from the other shops like a towering volcano island of quality and knowledge from a slurry sea of vacuous crap.
What are you working on next, can you give us a hint?
I’ve researched for a few months, and now just started writing a new epic fantasy trilogy in which a mismatched group of refugees will battle animals and monsters, determined assassins, depraved tribes, an unforgiving landscape and each other as they cross a continent to fulfil a prophesy . . . how’s that for a hint?
- - September 22nd, 2015
We remember when urban fantasy first arrived on our shelves, but the genre has changed significantly since then. Are these stories still popular? If so, why? We asked some of Orbit’s authors for their take on the genre’s past, present and future.
Where does urban or contemporary fantasy come from?
JIM BUTCHER, author of the bestselling Dresden Files, as well as recent adventure fantasy THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS
‘Urban fantasy is nothing more or less than the resurgence of fairy tales. We’ve changed what our big bad wolves look and act like, and our forests appear somewhat different than they used to, and Little Red Riding Hood is generally much more heavily armed than she has traditionally been, but we’re telling the same stories, in the same ways, with the same emphasis on the fantastic and the terror and delight of its clash with our everyday world.
It’s the everyday reality that so many of us find terrifying – to such a degree that we flee to tales of vampires and werewolves and dark sorcerers just to lighten the mood.’
CHARLIE FLETCHER, author of THE OVERSIGHT and THE PARADOX
‘People have always created stories to try and make sense of stuff they could neither see nor understand. ‘Urban’ fantasy is just a logical step since as society has become less rural and more metropolitan so the old dark woods of the old fairy-stories have been replaced by a sodium-lit concrete jungle. And of course we may have moved to the cities, but we brought our darkness with us.
There’s a lot of product jammed in under the urban fantasy label that doesn’t do it for me, but the books that do mean something to me are the ones that engage creatively with the inevitable transition from the old to the new world and deal with its consequences as a central part of the story (AMERICAN GODS by Neil Gaiman is a particularly fine and definitive example of this).’
What does the future of urban fantasy look like?
LILITH SAINTCROW, author of the Bannon and Clare Affairs and BLOOD CALL, as well as many other urban fantasy series
‘I think the last five years, as with any shiny new trend, have brought a certain amount of reader fatigue. Urban fantasy isn’t going away, but it’s not so much of a Wild West ‘let’s throw a vampire in there and hope it sticks!’ anymore. Which is very good, if sometimes frustrating when paranormal or urban fantasy is what you want to write.
After working in publishing for so long, I see “urban fantasy” as a genre title, nothing less, nothing more. There’s always a market for tales well told, and urban fantasy, like any genre, offers a set of tools and toys for a writer to play with.’
BENEDICT JACKA, author of the Alex Verus novels
‘I’d have trouble pinning down exactly how urban fantasy’s changed over the last five years, but I’m pretty sure that it’ll stay popular for the foreseeable future. The mash-up nature of urban fantasy lets it evolve easily, and the sources it draws on (comic books, games, epic fantasy) still have a lot of resonance for city-dwellers. So while I’d expect the type of urban fantasy stories to shift over time, I think the genre will stick around for a good while yet.’
PATRICIA BRIGGS, author of the Mercy Thompson series and the Alpha and Omega series
‘There isn’t a reader appetite for urban fantasy the way there used to be. Five years ago, any book that was urban fantasy was guaranteed a certain number of readers. I think, and it is not a bad thing, that readers are pickier now. For me as a reader, right now, what I love about urban fantasy is that there are so many good storytellers working in this field. Good stories still work and can still find an audience, though it might take longer to find a readership than before.
One of the things that I actually like about this is that we are seeing more diversity in books that are published again. I love, love, urban fantasy. But I also love space opera, traditional fantasy, and contemporary fantasy – and those genres were getting drowned.’
ELLIOTT JAMES, author of CHARMING
‘I like to read stories where the extra-ordinary and the ordinary mingle. Some people sneer at escapist literature, but “escape” implies relief, release, and freedom, none of which are bad things. Escape also inevitably holds a mirror up to the thing being escaped from.
Urban fantasy often gives ordinary characters a chance to demonstrate extraordinary qualities. It encourages readers to examine what it means to be human through contrast or by eliminating a lot of the obvious assumptions.
There have always been stories that introduced fantastical otherworldly elements into the everyday knockabout world that we humans optimistically call reality, and I expect there always will be.’