This post has been a little while in coming. Truth be told I hadn’t much expected it to ever happen – after all, ask anyone and they’ll tell you short story collections don’t sell in the UK. And yet here I am, with another lovely Larry Rostant cover to admire and my name on another book. Now they’re all special – you publish a book that isn’t special to you and it either will be your last or should be. Even for a professional author, each one remains a constant for a period of your life and should trigger an emotion as strong as the smell of freshly cut grass. Where you wrote the book, who you lived with or drank with – they’re all bound up with each one but God Tattoo encompassed most of my adult life as it turned out.
I can remember writing Beast in Velvet and Afraid of the Dark in my student house, Dark of the Moor after work in the shabby (former) offices of A M Heath with that funny smell halfway up the stairs, Shadows in the Library in the little house we rented when we moved to Oxford. Memories for each – almost a different author for some given the intervening years. But they were all for my own entertainment – side-tales to the Twilight Reign mostly written off the back of my discovery of writers like M R James and Lovecraft. Older versions were released on the net and a couple of people even read them; Beast got me my first print publication (despite being a second draft which the editor cut the very last line of) and I still have the never-paid in cheque of $10 as a reminder.
As a collection however, while they belonged together I never really believe they’d appear as a grown-up book. And yet here they are at long last I’m delighted to say – some isolated little tales, others that hinted at the wider conflict and ended up charting the course of the novels themselves. Among there are my own small takes on a serial killer tale, a locked room mystery, several ghost stories, a damsel in distress and Lovecraft’s accounts of horror. But they’re all part of the Twilight Reign world. If you remember the nameless captain from the Di Senego club in Narkang, he appeared there because two of these tales and I didn’t want the Twilight Reign to happen without him. That’s the thing with stories, your emotions get tangled up in them, but I’d not have it any other way.
So here you go, my little stories, all grown up. I hope you enjoy them.
Copies of the God Tattoo are on their way to me I'm told, so how's about a couple of them up for grabs? One simple question, best answer/s wins. As usual, points are awarded as much for absurdity, childishness, tangential ramblings and anything else that amuses me at the time.... Answers here, on Facebook, via email, DM, any way you like so long as I read it! But of course, if you post it by hand the dog will probably eat!
So - how does Daken acquire his God Tattoo?
One small NB, it's not on sale in the US until later in the year so I'm afraid this doesn't include you guys. you US-ites will have to have your own comp closer to the time!
Quite a lot actually!
Another little guest post for your amusement/derision/informed comments... Having been asked to do a paragraph about Pratchett to add to an article, I clearly couldn't keep to such modest constraints and got a blog post all to myself instead!
No, I've not started a fantasy-themed Frankie Goes to Hollywood cover band - my god, the horror - but I have committed guest bloggery over at Dribble of Ink. Feel free to go over there and tell me I'm talking complete rubbish!
All about me, which is just how I like it - brought to you by the lovely people at Civilian Reader
Originally posted by davidbrider at For a little while...
...this ad was up on the Directgov Universal Jobmatch page:
Secret Intelligence Service - Target Elimination Specialist
Posting Date: 22/11/2012
Company: Secret Intelligence Service
Industries: Security and surveillance
Job type: Full time
Years of experience: 5+ years
Career level: Experienced (Non-Manager)
Education Level: Under graduate degree
Salary: £50,000.00 - £60,000.00 per year
Performance bonuses on completion of missions
Hours of Work: Flexitime; Overtime; Shift work
Job reference code: 007
Contact information: email@example.com
From time to time the UK government has a need to remove people whose continued existence poses a risk to the effective conduct of public order. So we require particularly skilled professionals who are prepared to work on a non-attributable basis to deal with these problems.
The role will involve international travel to a number of countries where individuals need to be removed.
The ideal candidate will need to have no particular distinguishing features so as to blend in and be able to take on new identities as required. They will need to be resourceful in finding ways to accomplish their missions and, in some cases, to leave foreign countries by non-conventional means. The role would suit candidates with prior military experience, particularly in the use of sniper rifles.
The job holder will receive all necessary equipment, including passports, special watches, jet packs, mini-submarines and a Walther PPK.
This role is particularly appropriate for those who like their martinis shaken and not stirred.
To apply for this role, please express your interest somewhere in the vicinity of the large and rather fake-looking rock in Regent's Park.
Sadly, it's no longer there. I guess some people have no sense of humour. ^_^
Having been tagged by Suzanne McLeod in this meme, it’s my turn to babble about what’s coming up in my little writing life. So once you’ve read this, go check out her books, starting here.
2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
You’d think I’d know, wouldn’t you? Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten. Seriously, not a fucking clue...
I first wrote about 50k of Moon in 2004-ish after I’d revised Stormcaller and was waiting for responses from agents about it. I was giving up on ever getting anywhere with the finished book and thought it was time I started something else, chalking Stormcaller up to being valuable experience and practice. And then I got an agent, then a publisher, and Moon fell by the wayside for seven years.
3) What genre does your book fall under?
Fantasy – but where exactly I’m not sure. It’s all set in one city and has no big battles so it’s hardly my usual epic fantasy, but urban fantasy means something completely different. I’m calling it a fantasy action/conspiracy thriller until my publisher tells me I’m talking rubbish and changes it...
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Up till now, I’d been careful not to get too distracted by thinking this... the characters are who they are in my head so putting an actor’s face on them doesn’t help much. HOWEVER... ;0)
As for the rest, I don’t know any actress who’d be right for Kesh but no doubt any film would require her to become a skinny model-type anyway so... Rutger Hauer would lap up the role of Enchei, Narin’s dangerous old friend (but may be five or ten years too old, in which case the kid in me would want Christopher Lambert to deputise) while Gerard Butler (along with having a likely starring role in any Twilight Reign movies) would play the turncoat Irato nicely. For the bad guys, Anthony Hopkins could do Father Jehq in his sleep and either Milla Jovovich or Rhona Mitra would, I’m sure, make Synter her own.
5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
An inexperienced lawman stumbles over a plot to steal the minds of thousands and send the Empire of a Hundred Houses into chaos.
6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It will be published by Gollancz next year
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
About 12 months, excluding the time it took to write the proposal at the start (and have that torn to shreds a couple of times by my agent until I’d done it right). Most of my work is done during the first draft though, that’s by far the bulk of the time required.
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
That’s a tricky one. I’m not claiming this is a ground-breaking novel at all, but I’ve come across very few fantasies it resembles – maybe because for the last ten years I’ve been writing big epic fantasies instead. Having read Mark Newton’s Night of Villjamur there’s a similarity there, set around one city, a murderous plot that has wider ramifications. Ostensibly Lies of Locke Lamora too if you want to work off that basis, but it’s a very different book.
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Heh, does struggling to sell an epic fantasy ten years ago count? Assassins with amnesia are a common enough trope, so I had in my head a thought that I wanted to play with that a bit – not making it the focus or obsession of the story while also precluding the chance that his memory ever comes conveniently back – but mostly I was just looking to do a simpler tale to the one I’d just finished.
The Stormcaller was the start of a million + words over five novels and one collection of short stories, and if I’m honest I might admit readers REALLY need to pay attention and remember stuff to get the best out of it. So I just wanted to go in a different direction and try something else, go simpler on the plot and reduce the amount of magic on show, and play a bit with the cold war spy/conspiracy books the house was full of when I was growing up.
10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
I think it’s a pretty fast read for a good-sized book – 165k words – a handful of characters, one city and spanning just a couple of days. And (while it might be a bit of a risk in the current climate of anti-hero love) a main character who’s not an arsehole to everyone he meets – he may be in a tricky situation but he mostly wants to do what’s right. We also have fox-demons, assassins, warrior-mages, other sorts of demons, a couple of gods... hell, there’s even some romance in there! What more could you ask for?
And as they way this goes is to tag other writers to continue the thread in a week’s time or have some terrible and entirely imaginary calamity fall upon them, I hereby summon the elder gods of authordomship named Joel Shepherd, Mark Newton, Juliet McKenna and Adrian Tchaikovsky to continue this unholy work.
Joel Shepherd can be found here – and I’ve failed to read beyond the first of his books for reasons that bear no relation to the quality. Sasha was excellent and a good example that men can write interesting female heroes that aren’t just Conan with tits.
Mark Charan Newton is author of the Legends of the Red Sun series, of which I’ve also read only the first but still greatly enjoyed it. Are you see the theme of lack of time/slow reading speed yet? There are so many good books out there, many by authors I know, that I feel crap about not pursuing so many series, but from a professional POV want to at least be aware of what they’re doing. Fortunately, Mark’s building a nice reputation without me!
Juliet McKenna – a lovely lady and just as harmless and sweet as she first appears. Honestly, not dangerous at all, no fearsome skills at brutality anywhere in sight... She also writes good books however, and having met her at the last Eastercon I’ve got around to reading Thief’s Gamble fairly recently. Only the first book thus far of course, yes because I’m useless. However, as well as being a good book it’s notable for the approach I think, showing modern, unfussy dialogue etc many years before it was suddenly ‘discovered’ by a new crop of writers!
And finally, Adrian Tchaikovsky is notable for many reasons, not just because he reminds me of an oversized and folically-blessed David Devereux. One of them is the fact that he cunning evaded my first-book efforts by suggesting a reading swap – he’d brave the first novel that was Stormcaller and I’d read his second, Dragonfly Falling. Now Empire of Black and Gold, his first, was good but had some flaws in the way of first novels. Book 2 however, was a major step up and gives a better sense of the excellent series that is Shadows of the Apt. I’ve read six in that series now, somewhat aided by the fact my wife’s also hooked on them and buys them so I don’t have to!
Slightly off the grid at the moment because I'm editing Moon's Artifice and have to finish it by the start of December. Plus our puppy, Ripley, is still only twelve weeks and taking up a lot of my time/distracting me from things I should be focusing on.
However, it's worth noting that The Dusk Watchman should have been published in the US yesterday and ordered copies should be arriving with people today-ish - so woohoo for that! I hope the wait and the frustration of being good and not buying the UK edition instead will be rewarded with a fitting end to the series!
Not a writing post this one, just a document detailing some thoughts about getting a garden office because frankly I couldn’t see anyone else having done so and it might prove useful to others.
With the baby on the way, and the search for a puppy starting, I realised a few months back that I need to get an office to put in the garden. The previous owners had had one so I’d seen it in the space and it looked like a great idea, but knowing very little about the process I spent a long time googling companies and trying to work out what I wanted, plus what I could afford. I must admit it hasn’t turned out the best way, but I think I do (or rather will) have something I can use for a good few years to come. So anyways...
A whole lot of googling started me off. Pretty quickly I found this blog which is a good starting point for just getting an idea of what was out there. http://www.prefabgardenoffice.com/
Now you can easily spend 15/20 grand on an office if you want, but my budget just didn’t stretch that far and I was starting with a hope I could find something good enough for more like £5k. In the end this was revised to £7k, plus more than a few extras I hadn’t counted on, but life’s complicated enough at the moment so I’m just chalking them up to experience.
My front runner was a company called Future Rooms who seemed to blow the others out the water when it came to price. Additionally, they were willing to come out to do a free site visit and talk to me about the office – something I certainly needed so we ended up with a spec worked out for about £5500 I believe. And it was there the wheels came off rather. There are some rather slick computer generated images on their website, but weirdly no actual photos and none were provided to me, nor were there testimonials or any other evidence that they’d ever actually built any such office before. Coupled with that was the worrying detail that Future Rooms isn’t a company and I started to back out. They perfectly reasonably wanted a deposit, but the details quoted were for the man who came to do the site visit, in fact he was the only one who answered the phone or emails. So this company which had built loads of these offices didn’t do enough trade to have a dedicated company for it? I know lots of people who have their own companies because it’s a simply thing to do and a quick companies house search told me the guy did have one or two, one being a building firm if memory serves, but there was no such place as Future Rooms.
So I said thanks but no thanks and started looking again with a revised budget. This time round I came up with three firms that looked good, with products I could afford. These were O-Pod - http://officeingarden.co.uk/ - Sanctum http://www.sanctumgardenstudios.com/ - and Warwick Buildings http://www.warwickbuildings.co.uk/
All three looking at their contemporary rectangular designs, about 3m x 2.5m with glass down one side including the door and some sort of window on another wall.
In the interests of mentioning why I didn’t go with some others – Henley Offices were too expensive for the size I wanted as were Cotsmill & Booth’s – and so I believe were Oazis (but checking their website again I can’t remember exactly why, probably VAT on top of their prices but there was something that ruled them out). Smart Garden offices were in the price range but were designed off classic British design – and unfortunately the classic design was 1960s prefab so they look really ugly to my mind, especially in comparison to the designs of other places.
So we were left with O-pod, who’d built the very nice one for the previous owner and therefore were the front runner. I liked their design best too, the Space Pod, but it makes things harder when a company takes at least two weeks to answer any emails and in the end I gave up chasing them. I think they finally got me a quote once I’d gone with one of the others but when they were going to be able to do the work was anyone’s guess. Sanctum weren’t great at responding, but they did get things to me in time and while the price was comparable in the end – factoring other costs such as the base etc – they could install for a few months and I was hoping to get the office in before the puppy arrived as I didn’t want her upstairs where there was carpet for the first couple of months.
Which left me one, Warwick buildings. No. 3 on my shortlist, but they could install relatively quickly. The base I’d been left turned out to be insufficient for anyone so I got a local builder to concrete it, one of several added costs which put the whole project to more like £8k.
Being a bear of very little brain, especially when I’m more focused on other things, I hadn’t fully thought about the details of the electrics side. I had a cable running to the office but hadn’t realised I’d need an electrician to physically install the plugs, and lights, and light switch, and junction box – thinking it was only needed to hook up the cable to said junction box. On top of that cost, I should have factored in the cost of getting proper flooring in, something many companies do as included along with the plugs, but it’s another couple of hundred to get a local firm in to install laminate flooring. As I type there’s a nice man contending with Ripley trying to eat his shoelaces while he does just that.
There were other issues with Warwick I hadn’t expected, the main one being money. I’d assumed all these companies wanted to be paid the same way, deposit down and then payment on completion, but apparently not. Warwick wanted a third on deposit, fair enough if everything being build to order, but the balance ten days BEFORE installation, with just 500 left over for completion. That threw me a bit and almost made me wait for Sanctum to do the work (something in hindsight I should have done but there’s the fun of hindsight) but after a few emails and calls with me pointing out it was highly unprofessional, non-standard and frankly an invitation to defraud me or do a shoddy job, they agreed the bulk could be paid after installation. Which was nice.
Installation itself was a far easier process. They came on time, did a good job and also, importantly to my mind, were nice guys willing to work hard. As a rule I find builders are either really good or a bunch of bad-tempered dicks so I was glad to find these guys came from the first category.
Another bad note however, was the mention in their after-care pack that I should really put another coat of wood protector on the office once they had finished, at least within three months of installation. Maybe this was mentioned earlier, but they were using treated wood and I don’t recall it, but that’s something for others to bear in mind and ask about before agreeing to anything. Now while this is probably just a couple of hours work, I don’t really see why their wood isn’t treated to stand up to the weather on principle.
So, that’s a quick run-down on getting the office, in case it’s any sort of guide for other people doing the same thing. We live and learn, but the potential frustration when you’re spending your remaining savings is such that learning in advance would have been preferable! Once it's all finally completed and I'm in there working I'll post a photo of the final result. Unfortunately, three weeks after installation and I'm yet to see said result.
Nice to see they get it right sometimes ;0) http://falcatatimes.blogspot.co.uk/2