Posts Tagged ‘Charlie Fletcher’

Orbit’s Urban Fantasy Covergram

Looking to recommend or discover the perfect urban fantasy book to keep you warm through the long winter months? Orbit has you covered with our covergram. Featuring a range of bestselling authors alongside newcomers to the genre, we’ve dissected the world of urban fantasy and re-assembled it so every reader can find their next book.

Click on the image below to see a full size version.

Urban Fantasy Covergram

 

If you can’t decide and would like a little bit of everything, try Charlie Fletcher’s delightfully dark adventure set in Victorian London, THE OVERSIGHT (US|UK |ANZ), which has garnered the praise ‘exciting, exhilarating, scary and moving in equal measure . .  . this feels like the start of something amazing’ from Mike Carey, and Cory Doctorow called ‘a dark and glinting book . . . told in a kind of compelling and hypnotic poesie that I just lapped up’.  The second book in the series, THE PARADOX (US|UK|ANZ) is out in paperback this month.

Is Urban Fantasy Dead? Or Undead?

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

Butcher

‘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

CharlieFletcher

‘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step since as society has become less rural and more metropolitan so the old dark woods of the old fairy-stories have been replaced by a sodium-lit concrete jungle.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

Lilith2

‘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

BenedictJacka

‘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

PatriciaBriggs2

‘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

ElliottJames

‘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.’

“The Second Book Can’t Come Soon Enough . . .”

And now it’s here! THE PARADOX, the very, very, very much-awaited sequel to Charlie Fletcher’s THE OVERSIGHT is out this week, and . . .

“I’ll certainly be reading the next one” Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing

the critics who loved THE OVERSIGHT . . .

“The start of something amazing” Mike Carey

will clearly . . .

“The second book can’t come soon enough” Booklist (starred review)

be . . .

“If there is a sequel to this then I shall be first in line to read it” Fantasy Book Review

very . . .

“It’s going to be something special” SF Site

happy . . .

“I’d read a prequel this evening, a sequel as soon as.” Niall Alexander, Tor.com

to . . .

“Promises a trilogy worth sinking your teeth into” SciFiNow

hear . . .

“Go on and relish The Oversight without further prompting – then we can all wait eagerly for more!” Locus

that.

If you missed Charlie at the Nine Worlds convention last week, he’ll be at Edinburgh Book Fair on 21st August and Sledge-Lit in Nottingham in November. If you can’t make it to the UK, look out for his upcoming slot on John Scalzi’s The Big Idea, or find out what he’s up to on twitter at @CharlieFletch_r. THE PARADOX is out this week in ebook and print.

The Darkness is Calling (and it has your number)

This Halloween we asked Charlie Fletcher to write about what the festival of all things ghastly and ghoulish means to him. Charlie’s supernatural fantasy novel, THE OVERSIGHT, comes out in paperback next week, with its sequel, THE PARADOX to follow next summer.

I like Halloween, for two reasons. The first has to do with being a dad, the second is a writer thing. When our kids were toddlers we lived in Los Angeles, where Halloween was a suitably big and authentic deal, the full American trick-or-treat experience, with pumpkin-carving parties (not to brag, but I’m kind of a big deal when it comes to carving a wicked Jack o’ Lantern), cool and unusual costumes and enough candy and e-numbers to stun a Clydesdale. My favorite costume ever was at a house in the Palisades: our four year old (suitably dressed as a furry bat) knocked on the door, which swung open to reveal a man sitting at a solitary table in the hallway, apparently eating his supper. He seemed the nicest Norman Rockwellish old geezer and he beckoned us to come in and choose some candy from under the domed silver dish cover in the centre of the table. When the cover was lifted it revealed neither candy-corn nor Tootsie Rolls, but a woman’s head on a bed of lettuce. A beat of silence followed. It was a very realistic head, eyes closed, dead as mutton. And then the eyes opened and it spoke to our kid. Screams, shock and finally hilarity ensued. I loved, and still love the fact that this couple built a table with a hole in the middle, and that the wife spent all evening lying in wait for the unsuspecting trick-or-treaters to scare the pants off them.

The take away from that is if you want to scare people you have to put work into it, and when we came back to Scotland we set to with a will: high points in our ignoble but committed campaign to traumatize our and others children’s childhoods was a ghost trail laid through a rambling highland lodge in the wilds of Argyll in a howling storm, with the electricity turned off. The unconscionably small children set off in the dark, alone, by the light of a single guttering candle. All the supposedly responsible adults dressed up and secreted themselves throughout the building. A hidden fiddler played the children through the house, unseen, a spectral Pied Piper, always a floor ahead of them, leading them from the cellars to the attic and back again. Almost none of them made it back to the kitchen under their own steam. We topped that with an outdoor version the following year, involving grandparents wandering around as ghostly monks and witches, and ending with a test of bravery in which each child had to descend a mossy series of steps and enter an ancient crypt-like ice-house where a single candle in a jar sat on the floor of a darkened doorway, next to a tempting pile of brightly wrapped sweets. As each child tentatively reached for them, a bloody hand shot out of the inner dark and grabbed their hand. Oh, the screaming and oh, the therapy those kids will require in the future. Worth every penny, and had I not foolishly bloodied my hand with red gloss paint and had the devil of a time getting it off afterwards, it would have been perfect. It was certainly worth crouching in the dark for half an hour or so…

FullSizeRenderAnd that’s the second thing I like about Halloween. The dark. More specifically being in the dark. Trick or treating in LA was fun, but in truth it was more Frank Capra than John Carpenter when it came to scary. It was Americana of most enjoyable kind, but there were no true chills. And there should be a shiver and a frisson at Halloween. It’s the start of the Dark Half of the year after all (Winter has come . . .), Allhallowtide is upon us, as is Samhain, the time when the border between us and “them” – the dead and the uncanny – thins and becomes scarily permeable. And that’s what you feel in the dark. Less rational, unmoored from the certainty of daylight. Crouching under ground, in the blackness, waiting to scare the children, I too felt the chill of the shadows behind me. It’s a good thing to do, every now and then, to let yourself be that guttering candle in the surrounding dark. There are good things there as well as bad, same as in daylight: I’ve walked alone in a deserted glen far down Loch Etive and definitely felt watched by something not entirely well disposed to me as I passed through the ruins of a tiny hamlet abandoned in the Clearances. And that was in bright noon-day sun.

In The Oversight the Sluagh inhabit that unlit space; they stalk the book as Shadowgangers and Nightwalkers, and they certainly came out of the darkness into my head. As to whether they are evil – as some readers have asserted – time (and The Paradox) will begin to tell. What they certainly are is ‘other’. And though they are not quite the same as the Celtic fairy host of the undead sinners that share their name, they do of course owe a big debt to them. One of the reasons I avoid the F-word in my books is it has become too overlaid with ‘cute’ and winsome (for which we can start by blaming the Victorians, as with so much, and then proceed to Disney and the Dreaded Pink Aisle in Toys’r’Us). But as someone who spent way too much of his third year at university reading about the Fairy faith in Celtic cultures I do like the muscular fear and healthy wariness about the unseen and what might lurk there that used to fill people’s heads. Not because I think people should be scared all the time, but that in thinking about the dark they can exorcise those fears a bit and realize they too are a candle against it.

And then again. Halloween is the traditional day of the year when those older Sluagh ride. So watch out when someone knocks on the door tonight. It could be a sugar-crazed toddler in a furry bat-suit. Or it might be the darkness calling . . .

Guestpost: Charlie Fletcher On Getting Lost

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.

First Looks: Spring/Summer 2014 US Covers

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Another summer has come and gone, and here at Orbit, we’re already hard at work on next year’s exciting line-up! Here are some of the jackets we have ready so far with more to follow over the next few months.

Click on the images below to see a larger version and appreciate each cover in its full glory.  Pin, tweet, and comment away with reckless abandon. Let us know which books have already piqued your interest!

Martin_ReignofAsh-TP   œF�   Dalglish_ADanceOfShadows_TP  Carey_GirlWithAllTheGifts-HC   Corey_CibolaBurn_HC   Sapkowski_BaptismofFire-TP   Miller_PathToPower_HC   Irvine_Justice-TP   Weeks-BrokenEye-HC   Saintcrow_RipperAffair-TP   Wells_CursedMoon-TP   Jemisin_FifthSeason-TP   Abraham_WidowsHouse_TP

Art Credits: Reign of Ash: Illustration by Larry Rostant; Heaven’s Queen: Design by Kirk Benshoff; Dance of Shadows: Photo Illustration by Gene Mollica & Michael Frost, Design by Kirk Benshoff; The Girl With All The Gifts: Design by Duncan Spilling; Cibola Burn: Illustration by Daniel Dociu, Design by Kirk Benshoff; Baptism of Fire: Illustration by BARTŁOMIEJ GAWEŁ, PAWEŁ MIELNICZUK, MARCIN BŁASZCZAK, ARKADIUSZ MATYSZEWSKI,MARIAN CHOMIAK , Design by Lauren Panepinto; Path to Power: Illustration by Raphael Lacoste, Design by Kirk Benshoff; Justice: Design by Wendy Chan; Broken Eye: Photo by Shirley Green, Illustration by Silas Manhood, Design by Lauren Panepinto; The Ripper Affair: Photo by Shirley Green, Illustration by Craig White, Design by Lauren Panepinto; Cursed Moon: Photo by Shirley Green, Illustration by Don Sipley, Design by Lauren Panepinto; The Fifth Season: Design by Lauren Panepinto; The Widow’s House: Design by Kirk Benshoff