Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Sooo... some news...

I'm  not normally a fan of memes but in this case....

The game is in the early stages of development but is definitely happening. I've been told to expect something that works like a blend of Magic - The Gathering, Stratego, and War (the card game).

There will be much stirring of cauldrons, thaumaturgy and things best left unsaid involving chickens. I'm not involved in the creation itself, I'm not sure what lengths they go to.

I'm told Lords of Karma will work so that you can use a variety of different "platforms" as the base, but come on... who would pick anything other than the fae as the foundation of their deck?

The rough concept is that a player would focus on one "Lord" card, using support cards in an effort to become the Lord of Karma. You could choose from a variety of characters to use as your Lord, so there will be a Klöss card, an Aelthen card, a Selena card... you get the idea.

Realmwalker Gaming, a new division of my publisher, will produce the game which we expect to launch in 2016. There are plans to follow this up with a computer based version too. I don't have many details on that yet, which is just as well as my head might explode.

To say I am excited about this is a colossal understatement. There may have been *squee* noises... It wasn't pretty.

For now, it's back to the fae 3 draft... I'm pretty excited about this book too. In fact I'm more or less unbearable to be around at the moment. My wife rolls her eyes a lot.

Friday, 28 August 2015

A writer's holiday, complete with soggy sheep.

"Take the kids on a holiday to the beach," they said. "You'll have fun," they said...

North Wales, it's a lovely place, possibly one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to. Our cottage was nestled on the outskirts of a tiny village looking down towards a bay and miles of sandy beaches. Sheep dotted hills surrounded us, covered in grass so lush it barely looked real. The original plan was to steal an hour a day to write, and hopefully finish this book. Apparently someone out there had other ideas.

The Grand Writing Plan lasted roughly five minutes.  Shortly after our arrival, all of the rain-clouds in the northern hemisphere descended upon our little corner of Wales and set up camp. This had the result of transforming our beautiful view and picturesque village, into a collection of waterlogged fields complete with soggy sheep that looked almost as miserable the children trapped with me inside our rain-lashed prison.

In what was clearly a stroke of genius, the owner of the cottage had equipped it with absolutely nothing for kids to do when it rained. No DVD player, not even an old video recorder. It was also positioned FOUR HUNDRED LIGHT-YEARS from the closest town of any real size, and since the interwebz hadn't yet arrived in the village, there was no way of checking for things we could do. If you're setting out on a four hundred light-year trek to entertain your soggy kids, it's nice to know that there'll be something for them to do at the end of it.

I know we should have researched properly before we left. I understand this. I can't do anything about it now, and any helpful comments I receive about this may result in actual bodily harm.

As an added bonus, the owner proved to be a very strange man indeed who liked to check up on us by peering through the windows, and accosting any visitors we had. The kids named him Mr Snoopy-snoop. I had nothing whatsoever to do with this, and any rumours to the contrary are vicious lies.

By Thursday we'd had enough. We lashed a raft together made from the tattered remnants of our holiday plans, and plotted our escape. We'd make a break for it in the early morning, under cover of darkness, before the rain-clouds could spot us and foil our attempts. I have four kids. We didn't make it out of the place until 11am.

"Get us out of here!" we screamed at the satnav. It had other ideas apparently, and decided to take us on a rambling tour of the smaller, and more terrifying roads passing over the hills and mountains of Snowdonia. After we had to swerve to avoid the third suicidal sheep on the road, I began to think it was a conspiracy.

Suffice it to say, my book isn't finished. I'm sorry about that, blame Mr Snoopy-snoop if you like.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

It's Competition Time!

So, my author copies just arrived. Boxes once more line the shelves of my spare room to the delight/annoyance (delete as appropriate) of my wife. 

Following along in the general tradition with author copies, I've decided to give some away, but rather than handing them out at random I thought it might be fun to have a competition.

I'll be giving away three signed copies of Fae - The Wild Hunt, or Realm of Twilight, the winner's pick. 

To enter you simply have to send your entry to me here

Your entry can be anything fae related. Fan-art, photoshopped images, fae-themed photo's, even a piece of writing... So long as it's fae-related, it counts. I'll  post them up here for everyone to see and comment,  then cut it down to the ones I like best, the top three will win a signed copy and the overall winner will receive a special prize that will be announced just as soon as I think one up.  

This contest is open to entrants world-wide. Competition Closes Oct 31st, 2015 at midnight GMT,

Monday, 25 May 2015

The one with the brand new logo

About a month ago I announced I'd been signed by Realmwalker Publishing Group, a small but rapidly growing publishing house in the U.S. It was a big step for me. I released my first novel in March of 2014 and relinquishing control now is a bit like sending your kids off to school for the first time. Will the bookshops be nice to it? Will it be able to fit in with the cool books from the bigger publishers? What if it gets bullied by a hardback? (I sense I should stop now.)

It's hard to take a step back as well. Right now I can log in and see exactly what sales have been made on a given website. I can change the price, or do promotions any time I like. All of this is about to change, and it's going to take a bit of mental adjustment.

There's a lot of going back and forth with something like this. Legal stuff, discussions over whether the word colour should have a U (it should), and whether tea she belong in Boston harbour (it doesn't). Despite the six hour time difference, these guys been great. I wanted to keep my original covers because Vin had done such a good job with them. RPG have ruined them, of course, by sticking my ugly face on the back, but doesn't that logo look good down there?

Click here for a larger image

There's a lot going on in the next few months. Both books should be on shelves by August on both sides of the Atlantic and I'll be at a number of conventions, releasing my inner geek. It's all a little surreal to be honest, thankfully I have a very cool wife to keep me grounded. There's nothing like being sent off to deal with a dirty nappy (diaper) to bring you back to reality.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Social Media, more kittens... less trolls!

I'm going to rant for a bit. This has nothing to do with my books, or even with writing, but I think it needs to be said.

For those of you that don't know, we just had an election here in the U.K. The result was unexpected by most, but that's not really what I want to talk about. What I want to talk about is the way that we, as a people have behaved, particularly online.  This election saw a better voter turn-out than recent years, in fact the highest since 1997. This, to my mind, is a good thing. It's a very good thing. There isn't much point in having a democracy if people don't participate in the process.

People have been much more involved this time around. A lot more people have  made the effort, and educated themselves on the issues. There are many people in this country who are genuinely passionate about their beliefs, and the direction this country takes. All of this is good. It's very good! What is less good, is the way this has been expressed on social media.

Our world has changed. It started changing the day the internet became widely available, complete with modems that sounded like  a collection of bell ringers being forced through a blender. Social media is everywhere now, and there are very few people in western society who aren't on Facebook or Twitter or Tumbler, or some other thing that I don't even know about yet.

The problem with social media, and the internet in general, is that it can seem faceless and anonymous, even though it really isn't. People behave in ways that they (hopefully) would never dream of acting in public. Take the recent attacks on J.K Rowling, for example. She has been the victim of the most horrendous attacks via Twitter, just because she supports a particular political party. She's had her parentage called into question, and received suggestions of the most unlikely of anatomical arrangements. I don't think a human even can put their head there... I'm drifting off topic here aren't I?

Okay, so closer to home for me, my wife was recently attacked in much the same way. "Shame on you!" she was virtually heckled, just for the way she'd voted. Now, before I go any further, I just want to point out that this wasn't because she voted for a racist party, or even anything remotely extremist. It was because she chose to support a mainstream party. It wasn't even poorly concealed within an intelligent debate. It was just out and out hating. So she got sick of the effluent river of abuse that has been flowing through her Facebook feed, vilifying those that supported the winning party, and she spoke out.

Should she have kept quiet?  Well, it would probably have made for a more pleasant morning for her, but then, why should she have to? Why should anyone have to hide, or be ashamed of, their political beliefs? We're not talking about a closet Ku Klux Klan member here? We're talking about a person who, having examined the issues, made a personal choice based on what she felt was best for her family. Isn't that how the majority of people cast their vote?

More importantly, even if you disagree with the choice she made, isn't it her right to hold those beliefs and to be able to vote without abuse, both before and after the event? It sounds a bit melodramatic but people died for our right to vote. It could be argued that as a female voter, then her right came at a far higher price than mine. I'm a white, English, property owner. I would have had the vote centuries ago.

Also, and I'm speaking to the haters out there, in case you hadn't noticed, the election is over. It's done. Even if people were to change their minds now, it wouldn't matter anyway. As a general point though, comparing people to selfish female bovine body parts isn't the most convincing of arguments, and probably won't change anyone's voting habits. Not J.K Rowling's, and definitely not my wife's.

Social media is a wonderful thing. It can, and does, promote the exchange of beliefs and knowledge. It is slowly shrinking our world and breaking down the crumbling remains of ignorance and bigotry. This should be a force for good in our world, a continuing cultural education, not an avenue for petty minded cowards to hurl abuse from behind the parapet, safe behind the LCD walls of their laptop screens. Exchange ideas! Learn something, even if it's just how many photos of cats there are on Facebook that day. Don't hate!

I know I'm preaching a little here, but she's my wife and this stuff brings out the neanderthal in me, besides the message isn't really that complicated. Be nice! You all remember what you were told as a child. It might have come from your parents, or a teacher or someone else entirely, but I'm willing to bet we all heard it at least once. If you can't say something nice then don't say anything at all. And if your party lost in the election... get over it! Move on. Read a book ;-)

So, social media... More cats, less hating!

Rant over... I promise the next blog post will have something about publishers and fae in it.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Rough Magick by Kenny Soward

I should probably be blogging about my book deal with Realmwalker Publications but, to be honest, my head is still a bit of a spin about that. Instead, I'm going to post this book review, Rough Magick by Kenny Soward from Ragnarok Publications. This review is long overdue but not for the reasons you'd expect.

Steampunk kind of passed me by. I knew it was out there, knew it was "in fashion" so to speak, but there was something about it that didn't entirely appeal, there was always something else to read (or write) first and I passed over several times.

As it turn out, this was a big mistake! I don't know if Kenny Soward's work is representative of most steampunk, but if it is then I'm going to be spending more time reading it.

As I said, I don't know much about steampunk so I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of a setting. Was this going to be an alternate history? An adventure in a quasi-victorian world? As it turned out, it was neither. Soward blends technology with fantasy, using gnomes as the mixing bowl.

The worldbuilding is rich and extremely well done, as a fantasy world complete with dragons, magic, and elves, blends seamlessly with steam-power, tinkers and electrics. I've not read about gnomes since Shannara and Dragonlance and neither treated the race particularly well. This though, this is something vastly different to those experiences.

Little touches are rife throughout the text, with modern day inventions re-envisaged through a gnomish lens. Musitron disks instead of vinyl or CD's, sound boxes instead of speakers, even the naming two of the gods in the gnomish pantheon, "Tick" and "Tock". They're little things, but enough to bring a smile to the lips.

The story builds slowly, woven into the fabric of the worldbuilding and it's done very well. One sign of really good fantasy is when the reader forgets that they're reading about a non-human character, and Soward manages just that. His characters are as flawed as the next man on the street. Pride, guilt, deep bitter jealousy and resentment... they're all present and I think it's these uglier character flaws which serve to make this story so effective. This is no cliched fantasy tale about a brave knight in pristine armour off to fight an evil dragon. It's the story of a brother and sister,  Nikselpik and Niksabella, simply trying to get ahead in a world which seems unwilling to let them.

The relationship between these siblings is severely damaged with both blaming the other and remembering events differently. Even though this is a very minor aspect of the book, I have to say it was one of the parts I enjoyed the most and which most drew me into the characters.

The story is complex with enough enemy factions to make you wonder what the connections are and how many hidden ones will be revealed in later books. Rough Magick  is part one of a trilogy and, even if you weren't aware to start with, this becomes obvious about two thirds of the way through the book, when it's clear there simply aren't enough pages left to completely end the story. Though it ends on somewhat of a cliffhanger, enough of the tale is resolved to not annoy those who hate endings like that. Not without its flaws this is an amazing debut novel and a series which I will be following.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Gavrain goes to the dogs

Gavrain paused on the slick slate tiles as balance threatened to abandon him and pitch him flailing down into the street. The drop was easily thirty feet from the edge of the roof, and the hard cobbles below did not look like they would make for a pleasant landing.

He sucked in deep breaths, trying to calm himself. Making your way across a slippery roof in the dead of night under a misting rain was bad enough. Trying to do it with legs that shook from nerves, was sheer stupidity.

He'd caught wind of the stones over a week ago, listening in to drunk caravan guards gossip in one of the seedier dockside taverns. The ale there tasted like the filth-filled water under the wharves, but it was a good place to pick up gossip and hints like this one.

Helgan was a merchant-come-fence. He was also a gambler and a drunk, which was a bad combination of the best of days. His morality came and went with his luck at staying off the drink and finding the right numbers on the dice. The man was also fat to the point of corpulence and someone that Garvrain privately despised. He'd been forced to use him more than once to dispose of small items of jewelry he'd obtained but he hadn't used him in over a year now. He was tight, and the margin from a fence was already tight enough without needing Helgan to pinch harder.

Helgan had a new guard dog apparently. Stupid of him really. His dog would be no better than the tall, spike-surmounted walls he had around his warehouse. You didn't guard against thieves with dogs and walls, you guarded against thieves by not letting people know you were sitting on five, near perfect, feldanian diamonds.

"What use is a dog anyway," he snorted to himself as he reached the chimney of the roof. "Toss down a steak and they're happy."

The walls would be no problem either. There was little point in having high walls covered in spikes if part of your property was spitting distance from a taller building.

He shrugged the coiled rope over his head and shoulder and looped it around the chimney stack. It was good thick brick, easily able to support the weight of three men, let alone one slightly skinny thief.

Two good kicks was enough to push him out away from the side of the building and down past Helgan's spiked wall. In moments he was down and crouched low in the shadows, listening for any noise.  After a few minutes his smile spread, the dog was probably sleeping.

Helgan's shop was on the edge of one of the poorer areas of the city, where it could straddle the needs of those with "acquired items" looking to sell, and those looking to actually buy some of his honest wares. His most expensive items however, he kept in this small warehouse.

Gavrain made his way to the small side-door, pulling his roll of picks from his pack. The lock was a good one and well maintained. Stupid of Helgan really, he should know better. It's much harder to pick a rusty lock.

The door opened noiselessly, swinging inward on silent hinges. Gavrain shook his head again. If there was a guard dog, Helgan was doing nothing to make its job any easier. He made his way through the rows of crates and boxes, stacked sometimes twice as high as he was. as he walked by the light of a shuttered lantern attached to his belt by a thin cord. The thin beam of light was just enough to light his passage but nothing that would have been seen through the small windows, even without the tall walls surrounding the yard.

He knew the gems would have only arrived recently. They were probably from a fence in another city. Items this valuable were almost worthless when it came to try and sell them in the same patch as they were stolen.

He turned a corner and wandered. Where to begin? The place was much larger than it looked from the outside.

The panting sounded like the laughter of a particularly stupid man. "Hur, hur, hur..."
Gavrain froze in place before turning slowly. The dog was huge, easily as big as some of the mules and small ponies used on the farmer's carts that rattled into the city on marketday. Not just tall, but thick-bodied too, with teeth that shone in the light of the lantern and spoke eloquently of pain and tearing flesh.

"Hur, hur, hur." The mammoth/dog crossbreed panted again, walking slowly towards him.

Gavrain reached into his pack with one hand and tossed the steak to one side of the approaching behemoth. Poisoning a dog is really rather contemptible, but Gavrain had weighed his options and decided that, on the whole, he'd much prefer his skin in one piece.

The dog gave the steak a cursory glance and huffed in the canine equivalent of a shrug before it carried on with its unhurried approach, clearly not interested.

"Of course! Why would you want a bit of steak when there's a whole juicy thief right here," Gavrain muttered as he stepped backwards, trying not to spook the monster into anything involving teeth.

Three quick steps and a leap had him scrambling up the side of a pile of crates. He'd half expected the dog to leap but it just watched him as he hauled himself onto the crate and looked down at the beast.

Some people say dogs can't laugh or smile, those people are wrong Gavrain decided.

"Hur, hur, hur," panted the dog. It turned abruptly, and loped off into the darkness beyond the light of his lantern.

"Okay, now what." Gavrain whispered to himself, before wondering why he was whispering. The top of the crates formed a pathway of sorts that rose and fell with the stacks. He took a cautious step, and then another, feeling for any wobble or shift in the crates as he went. The dog was nowhere to be seen.

"Couldn't have been a carpenter like your Ma' wanted, could you Gavrian?" he muttered to himself as he lowered himself down onto a smaller stack and then hauled himself higher again.

He stopped with a sigh as the lantern illuminated the wall ahead of him. Going backwards was clearly going to be no help and a quick glance to either side of him showed only more rows of crates and boxes.

A flicker of movement drew his eye and the dog emerged from the shadows. It came closer and sat in front of the stack of crates he stood on, panting as it watched him.

 "Hur, hur, hur...." Your move.

It was a wide gap, but was it too wide? Gavrain gauged the distance to the rows of boxes either side of him. "It's not like you've got a choice," he sighed. The dog would be on him in moments if he didn't make this though. He deliberately moved to the wrong side of the crate, closest to the dog. Then he spun, took two quick steps, and hurled himself across the gap that had been behind him. The dog was up and running instantly, claws scraping on the stone floor as it raced to the end of the row of crates.

Gavrain clung to the edge of the crate, feet scrambling for purchase in a frantic counterpoint to the noise of the animal that was racing towards him. His foot caught, and he surged upwards onto the op of the crate in time to see the dog land. That had been too close. He had felt the wind of the dog's passage underneath him, heard the clack of the teeth as they closed on the air he had just passed through. He slumped down on his shaking legs into a cross-legged position, and tried to breathe normally. Below him the dog sat and looked up at him, watching.

"Hur, hur, hur..."

The next row of crates was closer, he could make that with no trouble. He crossed in a light jump, the dog following along below him, and then he saw the window. It was small, and set high in the wall, but it would get him out. The diamonds be damned at this point.

"You should have bought a cat, Helgan." He laughed, and made his way over the crates.

The scratching gave him pause. A scrabbling sound, much like he'd made when he hauled himself up the side of the crates as the dog raced towards him. A glance into the darkness showed him nothing but he made the next two jumps quickly, fear taking precedence over prudence.

The window was high, even from the top of the crates it would be hard to reach. It was also small, barely wide enough to fit his shoulders through. He looking behind him into the gloom, shining the narrow beam of lantern-light back and forth. Nothing.

A quick look at the wall showed him that would be no help to him. The only way to reach the window, would be to hurl himself at it.

"Come on then, lad." he said. "Let's be at it."

The crates shook as his feet raced along them, rattling loud enough to blanket any other noise. He barely heard himself yell as he threw himself into the air, arms outstretched to grab for the windowsill. His head crashed into the wall a fraction after his knees. He'd turned it, rather than mash his nose but the blow was still enough to make his grip loosen.

His hand clutched convulsively at the windowframe and he scrabbled at the wall again with his feet, inching himself upward. There was no room or time for finesse, his arms would give out if he tried to be quiet about this. His open palm slammed into the middle of the window, smashing the wooden frame and glass panels outwards.

Gavrain pulled his head up and began to worm through the gap, inching his way forward with legs flailing ineffectually beneath him. And then he was stuck. One arm was wedged behind him, pressed close to his side, the other outstretched and grasping at nothing as it reached through the broken window.

He had several minutes of blind panic as he wrenched his body back and forth, trying to move in either direction, before he managed to calm himself. There would be a way out of this, he just had to stay calm and reason it out.

"Hur, hur, hur." The sound came from underneath his legs, loud enough to hear clearly despite the fact his head was outside and the dog in.

A scrabble of claws on stone and then the teeth sank deep into his leg, the weight of the animal tearing his flesh and forcing him back through the window.

Shock held him for a moment, pressed its hand tight over his mouth, and then it fled and he began to scream.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Gavrain and the Dragon

Gavrain reached to wipe the sweat from his forehead again, and the gauntlet clanged loudly against his helmet. He swore to himself in a whisper, and watched the entrance to the cave. Nothing, no signs of movement. If it weren't for the scorched and gnawed bones carpeting the rocks at the cave entrance, he would have sworn it was abandoned.
The stones were slick with the drizzle that misted down from the sullen clouds hanging low in the sky. Where the sun was sulking he couldn't have said, but he would have cheerfully given a forefinger for the rain to be gone.
"Get on with it, Gavrain!" he hissed to himself in a whisper thick with fear.
The sword was heavy in his hands, he'd left the shield with the horse. It was too heavy to drag over these rocks in full armour, and it would be of little use against the beast anyway.
An acrid stench wafted from the cave, sulphur mixed with the stench of rotten meat. Almost masked by this, was the dry smell of snakes or lizards, the scent of the wyrm. Gavrain shuddered despite himself, and tightened his grip on the broadsword they'd given him, before pushing him out on this fool's quest.
His feet were as silent as he could make them on the stone floor of the cave, but sabatons were not designed for stealth, and they scraped and clanged the second he tried to move any faster than a nervous burglar.
The cave mouth gaped wide, and the tunnel opened wider still as he made his way in and around the corner into the chamber. He'd been told what to expect of course, but even so the sight took his breath away. A mound of gold and treasure large enough to dwarf his wildest imaginings. Small holes in the high roof of the cave, easily a hundred feet or more above him, provided a dim light. Despite the deep shadows, he could see the dragon was gone.
Within three steps he knew he'd been wrong. The smell was too fresh, too thick, for the dragon to be anywhere but in the cave. He froze for five frantic heartbeats and then searched the gloom. Full armour is not, however, designed to allow the wearer to look above them.
The leathery flap of the beast's wings was the only warning he had before the creature crushed him to the ground, pinning him easily beneath one gore-stained claw.
He had no time to scream, or even to think to beg for mercy. The huge head snaked down, teeth shining in the dim light. In one grinding crunch his head and chest were gone, devoured by the beast.
The dragon swallowed hungrily, oblivious to the twisted metal sliding down its throat along with the would-be knight's life. A long black tongue licked at the red-tinged lips as it considered the remnants of its meal.
"Nom!" said the dragon.

Friday, 13 March 2015

A bit of flash fiction

ThaththornsGuy and Mark Lawrence are having a 300 word flash-fiction competition. I took time away from the fae to cobble this together.

The tunnel was damp and thick with the stench of rot. She lifted the hem of her nightgown higher, exposing ankles that she would never have dared bare in the daylight.
“Why would he come here?” she asked again, hating the way her voice sounded. It was the voice of a little girl. Not of a woman almost fifteen.
“I was just told to fetch you, Young Miss. Keep you safe. We don’t want you vanishing like your sister did. Do we, Young Miss?”
Reacher’s breath was hot on her neck, she hadn’t realised he stood so close behind her. His breath stank of stale ale and the food that must be trapped between his twisted teeth. There was a reason they called him ‘Reeker’ behind his back.
She shuddered, hoping it would pass for a shiver in the light of his lantern as they turned another corner in the sewers. Had things gone so badly she needed to hide in these drains? Reacher was a long-trusted servant but why not send a guard? Someone who could actually protect her?
The lantern light slipped past her to play over the rusted grate blocking their path. A blanket lay bundled up against the wet stones.
“How do we get through?” She asked, looking back at Reacher. His face seemed so alive all of a sudden. A light shone in his eyes that she’d never seen before. Excitement? Fear?
“Don’t worry, Young Miss. I’ve a key that will sort you.” His words shuddered out, riding on breath moving too fast for the words to find purchase.
The knife parted her throat so easily, like a hand stroking silk. She slumped down beside the blanket, the skeleton underneath suddenly so clear.
“All men are liars.” Her mother’s words, suddenly so true.

Friday, 27 February 2015

An experiment in reading

So some time ago I suggested the idea of my doing a reading from Fae - The Wild Hunt via webcam. Not everyone jeered and laughed at the notion, and so here it is. This doesn't really contain any real spoilers, though my delivery clearly needs some practice. If the blogging gods are feeling unkind then you can catch the reading on youtube here

Friday, 20 February 2015

Myth and Lore in Fantasy - The Story Hiding Between the Lines

They  (whoever they are anyway) say that a good author writes about the things they love in novels and damn the consequences. To a lesser or greater degree that's what I did. I love the myths that are buried between the paragraphs in a fantasy novel. Don't explain them or give too many details, that ruins the effect. Leave me wondering. Let me leave the thoughts to ferment at the back of my mind while you tell your story.

Call it the mythology of the story, call it lore, it's all the same thing really. In fantasy, at least for me anyway, it's probably one of the most important part of the story. Personally I like the term "lore" and since this is my post, that's what we're calling it. It would be easy to confuse this with world-building and, to a certain extent it is a part of effective world-building, creating a backdrop against which the novel plays out.

In Peter V. Brett's Demon Cycle it's the myths and legends telling of the time when the demons were first driven back to the core. With Rothfuss it's the tales of the Chandrian and of Lanre, in Raymond E Feist's Riftwar Saga, I suppose it's the legends of the Valheru. What it isn't is the geography or economics, or even the politics of a place. Lore is all about myth and half-remembered fables.

We're funny creatures us readers. Rules are not universally applicable. Whilst we might accept an info-dump in terms of lore, it would never work with a character's past for example. How this lore is conveyed to the reader is a damn tricky thing. There was a time when you could do this by way of a prologue. David Edding's Belgariad did this and, as a reader in my early teens, it didn't bother me at all. Either fantasy as a genre has moved on a little since then, or I've grown older (I said older, not up. Growing up is a foolish thing for any man to attempt, we're simply not qualified.) In any event, a prologue like this seems clumsy and cumbersome now, unless done very well.

Rothfuss conveys a LOT of his lore by way of  songs and stories within his books. I've tried to do the same thing, though most of the lore conveyed turns out to be false.
 The droos began as one such people. A people driven by the quest for understanding, to discover their place in this world and the starry skies above. They had no temples, no churches. They gave no Setday services, unlike our good priest.” He nodded towards the door Trallen had so recently stormed out of. “They spent their time, instead, in the study of all things, and of the secret workings of the world. The unseen flows of power that turn the seasons and lift the tides. Some say they succeeded in finding answers. Some say they discovered dark and terrible things, and this is how they shattered the moon.”
 Samen, Fae - The Wild Hunt

Oddly creating lore, at least for me, is probably the easiest part of writing.  It's when your imagination is let loose on the page and anything can happen. Without lore then, we as readers, would never know that accepting rings from Sauron is probably a bad idea, or that  Valyria is not going to make a top holiday spot any time soon.

Writing about these myths and legends within the story is also a case of less is more. These are the areas where it's okay to leave the reader hanging. My whole series is about myths and the truth that lurks within them. It's about half-forgotten fragments and lost histories. Give me your imagination to play with and together we can go somewhere special.

Fantasy has a foolish stigma that it's books for nerds or children. To this I say pah! (insert stronger words if you like,) Fantasy is by no means an easy thing to read, or to write. There is a reason fantasy novels tend to be longer than books in other genres, A good fantasy book has to create an entire world on top of a good story and engaging characters. Buried in amongst this will be the lore. It's a small thing but done correctly, it's the icing on the cake. Let me know if I did it right.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Of titles and learning to write again.

I hate coming up with titles. I'm not good at it, and it's easy to end up with something corny. Fae - The Wild Hunt more or less named itself. For that matter, so did Fae - The Realm of Twilight. This this third book though, this one is giving me problems.

In a burst of pure genius I thought I'd do a poll and see what you guys (by which I mean the internet in general) thought of the three options I was working with. Maybe I'd get lucky and get a clear sign. It could happen couldn't it? No. It couldn't. As you can see from the results below, not only didn't it happen but they are almost worthless.

On the face of it, it looks like the first option is every so slightly edging the rest. That said, though it got more votes than either of the others, you could read it that 60% of those that voted didn't want it. About the only thing the poll did tell me was that option two was a non-starter. So basically the poll has been about as much use as a chocolate teapot. On that basis then I'm going to say "the heck with it" and go with option three as the working title.

I started work on book three of The Riven Wyrde Saga a little more than a month ago now and it's been hard going. I had the same problem when I finished book one, I took too long of a break and pretty much forgot how to write. There is nothing particularly hard about writing itself. You sit and type until you hit the length you were looking for and then you'e done. The trouble comes when you want to write something of any quality that people might actually want to read because then you've got to reread and polish and edit.

My method has always been to get the thing written and then go back and try and make it good. The trouble is I've grown to be very critical of myself over the last year. I've had real problems resisting the urge to just delete the whole damn page and start over, but we're getting there.

I have two things that I really struggle with when writing. Okay that's not true, I have several things I struggle with. These range from keeping the caffeine intake at the optimal level to have me bouncy enough to pump the words out, but not so jacked up that I am actually hanging from the ceiling, to keeping the small people (kids, not faeries) alive, happy, not on fire, and killing each other reasonably quietly while I'm trying to write.

By the end of Fae - The Realm of Twilight I was producing about 40'000 word a month. Some writers (mentioning no names *cough* Tim Marquitz *cough*) will brag on social media about banging out over eight thousand words in a day. Me, I can't do that. Four thousand is about my max and that's going to need a LOT of going over.

It usually takes me about twenty minutes of writing to get into a zone where I can produce something good. It has a feel to it. If you're anything like me and you read fantasy as a kid you'll remember that moment when Garion first used sorcery in David Eddings' Belgariad or when the dragon died in Raymond E Feist's Magician, leaving Tomas the valheru's armourMoments when you step out of the story just long enough to think, "damn, that is cool!" before throwing yourself back in, deeper than before. It's that feeling that I aim for when I'm writing. Once I get close to that then I know I've hit the zone and I'm going to get some good stuff down.

I've hit that a few times now so I think we're getting there and if you check back here or on Facebook in the coming months then you might find a snippet or two, if you're into that kind of self-inflicted torture.

Fae - The Sins of the Wyrde should be out sometime this autumn

Monday, 5 January 2015

Austin-King! You leave that poor priest alone!

The other day someone was chatting to me about my latest book and commented that my views on religion come across very clearly in both of my novels. I was intrigued by this and, though I'm not going to comment too much on the religion in the books (because, you know... spoilers) it is interesting that some people think I share this view just because I wrote it as a plot device.

I've had more than one person suggest that the religion in my books might be Christianity (it isn't) and one even went so far as to state that the god in them must be the Christian god because no others gods exist (again, it isn't). You can sort of see the logic if you screw your eyes up tight and spend an hour or two smashing your head into a brick wall... There is only one god. You have a god in your books. That god must be the Christian god. To be honest I wasn't quite sure how to respond to that one, except to back away slowly and try not to make eye contact.

The church and a few individual priests do get a bit of a bashing in my books and maybe that's where all of this is coming from. As it happens I'm more or less agnostic but I don't see how this is especially relevant to my writing. Whether I personally am anti-religion or not isn't something I put into the books. The religion in the books is there for a very specific reason that is central to the overall story of the trilogy, not because of any of my personal views. I think you could argue that everyone who writes has some aspect of their personality that passes over into their work, but this isn't a constant.

Patrick Rothfuss has been accused of hating poetry. His main character, Kvothe, spends a lot of time ridiculing poetry and poets in general but Rothfuss himself has said that he enjoys it. If writers all possessed the traits of their literary characters we'd be in some serious trouble, imagine how agents would have to cope?! Robert Harris would only communicate with his via email and E.L James's agent would be in hospital suffering from exhaustion!

Seriously what is with this? Mark Lawrence has been lambasted more than once for the multitude of supposed graphic rape scenes that are throughout his books (they're not actually there), and again for the lack of women in main character roles (they ARE actually there) as if his writing represents his personal beliefs and thus are promoting some kind of ideology. Terry Goodkind (Sword of Truth), judging by his books, is obsessed with rape and S&M. Stephen King is apparently responsible for the corruption of an entire generation (probably two by now, thinking about it) and merely being seen with his books was enough to make some people label you a satanist (okay maybe it was only grannies in the bible belt who were a little confused).

I'm rambling now and I suppose my point is just this, it's fiction! Just because we wrote it doesn't mean that's what we actually believe, it's just what the story needed at that point! I'll confess I don't understand this because it doesn't carry over to other mediums. Actors don't get abuse for portraying a particular role. Actors can portray any number of hideous characters and nobody (sane) imagines that they are like this off screen/stage. We're not that different, actors and writers, We both lie for a living... Buy the books, enjoy the films but don't assume the personality you are seeing is a real one... except for the parts about the fae of course. They're completely real.