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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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Posts Tagged ‘gothic fantasy’

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I’m aware this is a Quality Problem and expect not a bit of sympathy here, but a new book (THE OVERSIGHT) does mean book launches etc, and at some stage public speaking will inevitably be involved, and people who spend most of their lives being articulate on the page (where they have the great advantage of a) not having to do so in real-time and b) being able to edit and re-polish their words before public consumption) now have to perform without those safety nets. Talking in public and the demands of real-time articulacy are, on balance, probably good for you, like getting some bracing fresh air after the fug in the office, but the moment I dread is when the chairperson turns to the audience and wonders if anyone has any questions . . .

The truth is, I don’t mind the questions. I don’t even mind that they are usually the same ones, because at least the questioners are different each time. I mind my answers. I mind them because it’s always me replying, and I know what I’m going to say and that I for one am going to have to listen to it all again. So, to try and end-run the inevitable, here’s a pre-cooked answer to a couple of the Top Five FAQs, in the hope we can skip them next time and enable me not to have to suffer my own repetitiveness any more.

The questions are “How do you get your ideas?” and “Do you always have a clear plan when you start writing?”

The short answer to both of these is conveniently the same one: I like getting lost. More specifically, I like getting lost on purpose.

I got the habit a long time ago, when I was first working in London and trying to get to know my way around. It wasn’t anything like The Knowledge, that heroically compendious act of street-memorizing that all London cabbies have to master, but it was my small version of it. I worked a three-day shift at the time. That left me with four days off per week in an expensive city on a not enormous wage. So walking around and exploring was a good way to divert myself without spending all my cash. I would set off in one direction and when I got to a junction where I had previously turned left, I would turn right, and so on until I turned myself round and tried to get home as directly as possible. London has never been subject to any uniform grand design (though Wren had unbuilt and rather wonderful plans for a refurb following the Great Fire) so it’s an organic jumble with no grid to orient you, which made getting lost a doddle. If you want to conquer a city and make it your own, you need boots on the ground: and so I tramped the streets, loafing and looking.

Christchurch SpitalfieldsI remember first stumbling across the ominous façade of Hawksmoor’s Christchurch Spitalfields with a perfect hunter’s moon hanging in the sky beside it. That led me to Peter Ackroyd’s book Hawksmoor in particular, then his London-centric writing in general (which stimulated a deeper sense of the historic weirdness in the city’s many shadows) and a renewed interest in Blake and Dickens that sprang from that. That led me to Dickens’ Household Words which contains masses of fantastic articles he wrote about walking around London. I’d take a reprint with me while I walked and read and compare past with present when I stopped in whatever café or pub I found myself outside at lunchtime. Sometimes the book was HV Morton’s London, which provided similar first-hand views of the same cityscape but nearly a hundred years later. Walking cities with a book (and a notebook) became a habit I still have. Not a bad result from a single serendipitously taken turn in the road whilst involved in the act of purposely getting lost.

More specifically, I got the idea for the plot of the entire Stoneheart trilogy (in which London’s Statues come alive, but only visibly to two children) simply by walking from statue to statue and letting the thing join itself up in my head. For example, I had to get my characters to the Blackfriar’s pub (conveniently situated outside the Orbit offices, by the way) and so just meandered in that general direction, picking up characters like Sphinxes, Dr Johnson and the tremendously lithe Temple Bar Dragon on the way. (An American academic called Andelys Wood has rather amazingly photographed all the statues mentioned in the Stoneheart books, efficiently mapping that all that serendipity.)

Of course ideas don’t only come from the simple act of getting lost; you have to be paying attention. You have to have a good memory, or failing that, the notebook in your back pocket. Most of all you have to follow up those unexpected links. Like good luck, serendipity happens most often to those alert enough to notice it and well enough prepared to grab it as it passes. Which is why even the most aimless loafer needs to keep their pencils sharpened.

“I like getting lost” is also the answer to that second FAQ. Getting lost in London is pretty stress-free for me. I’ve been lost in other more stressy paces so I’m well aware this isn’t always the case. I know that there’s usually an Underground (Subway) station close by, or failing that a bus stop to take me back into charted waters. In London the Underground is a hidden organic grid beneath the randomness of the city. It’ll get you from A to B, but it doesn’t tell you any interesting detail about the terrain you’re travelling beneath. When I write I have a similar schematic, at least a beginning, middle and end, but usually some more connecting stops along the way, but I don’t have the whole work mapped out as a detailed beat-sheet. Doing that detail of planning is, for me, wildly unproductive. As a novelist the real pleasure is 100% freedom to get lost in your own story and see what presents itself unexpectedly, but process can only be stress-free if you have at least a bare schematic underpinning everything. The very best days are the ones in which you re-read yesterday’s pages and can’t quite remember writing them, or how those associations happened or indeed where that new character jumped in from, as if you have been working in a fugue state (I think that’s what the “Flow” is). I’m not going to get all spoilery about the The Oversight, but when Lucy Harker first opened her mouth I, like anyone else, was entirely surprised by what came out.

And that’s why, for me, for at least why writing is inextricably all about getting lost: “It’s the serendipity, stupid”.

Of course that’s a steal from James Carville and the sign he put up in the Clinton campaign office in the ’92 election to keep everyone on-message, but then stealing is a big part of the answer to another prime contender for the FAQ Hall of Fame, which is “Where do your characters come from?” And that’s a question I do like, because the answer changes with each book. Maybe we’ll get to that . . .

Out Today: Charlie Fletcher’s THE OVERSIGHT!

Charlie Fletcher’s gothic fantasy THE OVERSIGHT publishes today! Grab yourself a copy in print, digital or audiobook, and embark upon an adventure through a Dickensian London and wild British countryside filled with monsters, danger and intrigue. If you like Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett, you’re sure to enjoy this tale of dark deeds and even darker magics.

The book’s fans already include authors Mike Carey, Adam Roberts, Frances Hardinge and Cory Doctorow, it’s taken Twitter by storm, and here’s just a sample of some of the fantastic reviews we’ve seen so far:

‘The Oversight is – and let’s be clear here – something very special . . . It’s oh so moreish a morsel. I’d read a prequel this evening, a sequel as soon as.’ – Niall Alexander, Tor.com

‘Told in a kind of compelling and hypnotic poesie that I just lapped up . . . I’ll certainly be reading the next one.’ – Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing.net

‘A highly entertaining fantasy that promises a trilogy worth sinking your teeth into.’ – SciFiNow

‘A remarkable combination of British folklore, brisk pacing and wide-ranging imagination.’ – Kirkus Reviews

‘Richly atmospheric (the evil lurks in the background of every paragraph), the book should be a big hit with supernatural-fantasy readers . . . the second book can’t come soon enough.’ – Booklist (starred review) 

Listen to an audio sample at Soundcloud today.

New Wallpaper: LAST BLOOD by Kristen Painter

LastBlood-wallpaperIt’s  almost time for the final showdown between the forces of dark and light in LAST BLOOD (US | UK | AUS), the fifth novel in The House of Comarré  series. The covers for each of these books have been absolutely stunning so I urge you to take a moment and check out the rest of Nekro’s gorgeous artwork.

Here are a few wallpapers for you to download, and if you want to read an excerpt from the first novel, BLOOD RIGHTS (US | UK | AUS), then that can be found here. Enjoy!

1024 x 768 | 1280 x 800 | 1440 x 900 | 1680 x 1050 |1920 x 1200 | iPhone | iPad | Facebook

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OUT FOR BLOOD by Kristen Painter4As Halloween approaches, so does the need for many of us to stock up on candy and other assorted treats in order to successfully bribe the neighborhood children into not TP-ing our houses or soaping our cars.

Paradise City is no different. Okay, maybe it’s a little different considering many of the inhabitants are creatures most likely to become Halloween costumes. Doesn’t mean they’re not in the Halloween spirit, though! Should you go trick-or-treating in Paradise City, here’s what my characters will be filling your goody bag with:

1. Malkolm, vampire – Let’s be honest. You can knock all you want. Mal’s not opening the door. If he does? Run.

2. Chrysabelle, comarré – If you can actually make it onto the private island where she lives, then past her estate’s security gates, you deserve a treat. Chrysabelle’s treats are the uber expensive Amedei Porcelana dark chocolate bars. She’ll then send someone along with you to make sure you don’t run into trouble the rest of the night.

3. Doc, varcolai (leopard-shifter) – Since juicy steaks are liable to ruin your other treats, Doc’s handing out packages of locally made gator jerky. Try it. You’ll like it. It bites back.

4. Fi, sometimes ghost – With Fi’s sense of humor, she’ll be stuffing your goody bag full of gummy spiders, severed finger cookies and skeleton bone lollipops. If you think that’s gross, you should see her ghost form. Mal’s the one who killed her, you know…

5. Dominic, vampire – Ever the entrepreneur, Dominic will be handing out coins good for one free entrance to Seven, his night club. Note I said entrance. Getting out of Seven is up to you.

6. Creek, Kubai Mata agent – Halloween isn’t really Creek’s thing, but his grandmother, Rosa Mae Jumper, has stepped in to help, providing him with enough raven feather charms for everyone. Put yours on immediately. You never know who might be trying to steal your soul.

7. Tatiana, evil vampiress – If you happen to be in the hidden city of Corvinestri, Romania and you’re unfortunate enough to knock on Tatiana’s door, that will probably be your last stop of the night. See, Tatiana isn’t known for her hospitality, but she loves humans. Mostly as a snack. On the off chance she does put something in your bag…trust me, the apple’s poison.

As you can see, the House of Comarré characters are an interesting bunch with different takes on the meaning of treat. If you want to see them in action, check out the next book in the series, OUT FOR BLOOD (UK | US | AUS), which is available now!

OUT FOR BLOOD – The Wait is Over!!

OUT FOR BLOOD by Kristen Painter4After the first three explosive books in the House of Comarré series were released three months in a row, waiting a whole ten months for the next installment was pure TORTURE. But the time has finally come! Orbit is very excited to be releasing OUT FOR BLOOD (UK | US | AUS) this fall, book four in the House of Comarré series by Kristen Painter.

After nearly dying at the hands of the Aurelian, Chrysabelle finds new determination to move beyond life as a comarré. That is until the Kubai Mata bring a new task to her doorstep: rescue the child Tatiana has kidnapped, or Mal becomes enemy number one.

Magic, trouble, loss, and love (and of course the verydelectable Mal) await you in this fabulous next installment from Kristen Painter.  Enjoy and then join me in the count down (eight months until book five, eight months until book five, eight months until book five!)

Praise for the House of Comarré:

“Prophecy, curses, and devilish machination combine for a spellbinding debut of dark romance and pulse-pounding adventure.” — Library Journal (Starred Review)

“Painter scores with this one.  Passion and murder, vampires and courtesans — original and un-put-downable.  Do yourself a favor and read this one.” — Patricia Briggs, New York Times bestselling author

“Kristen Painter brings a sultry new voice to the vampire genre, one that beckons with quiet passion and intrigue.” — L.A. Banks, New York Times bestselling author of The Vampire Huntress Legends series

Check out the rest of the series!
   

 


 

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