Saturday, March 22, 2008

Leviathan Rising hits Eastercon

I have just returned from the opening day of this year's Eastercon, otherwise known as Orbital 2008. I was there to accompany the launch of my second Pax Britannia title 'Leviathan Rising'. Even if I do say so myself, Mark Harrison's cover looks stunning matched to the book's matt-finish format. And inside the designers have gone to town with some really fantastic tentacles!

I just want to take this opportunity to say 'Hi!' again to anyone who came along and said 'Hello.' And thank you to all those people who bought the book and then let me scribble my name in the front. I hope you enjoy it.

But it wasn't all work work work. As well as talking all things Pax Britannia with my editor Jonathan Oliver, I also caught up briefly with Christian Dunn of Solaris Books (who I know from my days writing for Inferno! magazine) and got to say 'Hello' to James Swallow, tie-in novel writer and fellow Black Library scribe, who spoke animatedly on a panel about... tie-in fiction and whether they are proper books. The concensus in the room was a resounding 'Yes', you'll be pleased to hear.

You can find out more about James' work for Doctor Who, Star Trek, Stargate and the rest at his own website. And on top of being a top tie-in author, he's a scholar and a gentlemen too. We'll have to have that beer some other time, James.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Orbital 2008

This Easter weekend see the annual British National Science Fiction Convention (a.k.a. Eastercon, or Orbital 2008) come to London. Or rather Heathrow: the Radisson Edwardian Hotel to be precise.

Eastercon's history is heavily linked with "sf as the written word", and modern Eastercons retain a strong literary influence. Guests-of-honour are typically authors, and many authors in the contemporary sf scene and related genres (such as fantasy and horror) regularly attend.

This year's guests of honour are Neil Gaiman, Tanith Lee, China Miéville and Charles Stross. And I'll be going as well, but only from lunch time tomorrow.

So, if you're there too, why not wend your way to the Abaddon Books stand where I'm going to be signing brand spanking new copies of 'Leviathan Rising'.

Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Close Encounter with the Family of Blood

I found myself in rather an unusual situation today - juding a prose-reading competition (run as part of a school book week), alongside an alien Aubertide, or at least the actor who portrayed him on television. Gerard Horan appeared in Doctor Who last year as Father of Mine, a member of the Time Lord-hunting Family, who took on the guise of a character called Mr Clark in the already legendary episodes 'Human Nature' and 'Family of Blood'. This two-parter by Paul Cornell will go down in television history as one of the best televised Doctor Who stories of all time, as well as being remembered as a fantastic piece of dramatic story-telling in its own right, in any genre.

Anyway, I survived the experience and found Mr Horan to be a thoroughly pleasant gentleman. What with him having appeared in Doctor Who and myself having contributed one of the most recent Doctor Who fiction spin-offs, it was something of a DW double-header for the school. And to top it all, the children had entered a competition to win signed copies of 'The Horror of Howling Hill'! I almost felt like a celebrity author for all of 45 minutes.

You can find out more about Gerard Horan at the Internet Movie Database, the Family of Blood here, and read up about Paul Cornell's latest projects on his own blog site. As to 'The Horror of Howling Hill'... I think I've possibly posted that link enough already.

Until next time...

Friday, March 7, 2008

Adventures in time and space

Yes - it's out! 'The Horror of Howling Hill' hit the shelves yesterday, as evidenced by the photos below.

This particular book is my sixteenth published title and yet I still get that thrill of excitement when I see a new book of mine in print. And seeing it out on the shelves gives an added buzz. I have to confess, I almost had butterflies in my stomach when I checked out the new Doctor Who display in my local WHSmith yesterday.

But this morning, it's back to the real world. There's a new book to write, a new synopsis to prepare and future projects to be planned. So, to work!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

More Pax Britannia

If you pop over to the Abaddon Books blog you will see that they are furiously promoting 'Leviathan Rising' which is released a week on Saturday, 15 March (with a brand spanking new cover design). You'll see that there is also mention of the novella 'Vanishing Point' which will be published with it as well. And there's more to come after that.

On my 'To Do' list over the next week is to write the cover blurb for 'Human Nature', which is to be the third Ulysses Quicksilver novel and the fourth Pax Britannia adventure. I also need to polish off the synopsis for Ulysses' fourth adventure and, not long after that, outline the fifth. With there being a strong likelihood of another UQ short story or novella in the offing as well, the next 12 months or so are shaping up to become the Year of Victorianesque Derring-Do. And I hope you'll join me for the ride - along with Ulysses, his faithful manservant Nimrod and a cast of thousands!

World Book Day

Today, 6 March 2008, is - if you didn't know - World Book Day! And today is also the day that my Doctor Who: Decide Your Own Destiny advenutre 'The Horror of Howling Hill' is released! Can you tell I'm excited?

You can find out more about World Book Day here, and more about 'The Horror of Howling Hill' here. And if you do happen to pick up a copy, why not let me know what you think of it by posting a comment here? (Just remember, it's aimed at 9-12 year olds.)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

'Tis the Season

Deck the halls with boughs of holly -
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la!
'Tis the season to be jolly -
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la!

March is here, the evenings are getting lighter, there's blossom on the trees, daffodils fill the parks, and I find my mind turning to thoughts of Christmas!

'Hang on!' I hear you say. 'I know that Christmas is getting earlier every year but - March? Isn't that just a little too early?'

Well, no. Not if you're writing a book about Christmas, ready for the Christmas present-buying period. And that's what my next project is! It's called 'What is Myrrh Anyway?' and it's sub-titled 'Everything you wanted to know about Christmas' which should really have the line 'but were afraid to ask' added.

It's a book about the traditions and history of Christmas - all the things we take for granted, such as stockings, the tree, Christmas cards and the like - which we possibly don't know the reasons for or the origins behind. Why is turkey the traditional Christmas bird? Who really is Santa Claus? And was Good King Wenceslas really that good anyway?

So if you'll excuse me I'll just get back to my CD of Christmas carols and that recipe for real mince pies.

Until next time... Ho, ho ho.

A Change of Direction

I have just come to the end of another project and it's been something of a departure for me. It's called 'Match Wits with the Kids' and it's a fun, educational book.

Despite having been a teacher for the last 14 years, this is the first time that I have put my expertise in that area to use in my writing career. Writing it has been unlike anything I've written before, apart from possibly a worksheet for a class of children to tackle. It's not the longest thing I've written but it's the most dense, where practically every sentence is trying to convey something factual and informative, whilst in an entertaining and interesting way.

The inspiration behind the book was to write a revision guide for parents. The premise is that as your own children progress through the school system they start asking you more and more difficult questions when they need help with their homework, usually about things which you learnt at school but which you've since forgotten.

'Match Wits with the Kids' provides some basic information in seven subject areas to help the struggling parent keep up with their children. The text is written in a light-hearted way, that attempts to demystify such things as simultaneous equations, the history of Britain from the Norman Conquest through to the end of the Second World War, the Sciences and even how to use the English language correctly.

The seven subject areas covered are English, Maths, Science, History, Geography, Modern Foreign Languages and Classics. The information is presented in handy, bite-size chunks and is accompanied by illustrations and diagrams throughout.

'Match Wits with the Kids' is out this July from Icon Books, and every parent of Key Stage 3 kids will be glad they picked it up!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

I, Zombie

I was very excited to recently discover that Al Ewing (esteemed fellow Pax Britannia author) has written another title for Abaddon Books under the 'Tomes of the Dead' banner. This is what it says about the forthcoming book on Abaddon's website:

My name is John Doe. I've been dead for ten years. I have no heartbeat, no breath, no smell, just cold, clammy flesh animated by something I don't understand. So I sell my dead flesh to the highest bidder. If the price is right, I'll kill for you, steal for you, or save your life for you. There's no mystery you can't hire me to solve… apart from this one...

It sounds fantastic, and I for one cannot wait to read it. Keep an eye on the shelves of your local bookshop as it's due for release in June.

Action and Adventure in a New Age of Steam!

I received a rather pleasant surprise the other day. I recently my subscriber's copy of 2000AD (Prog 1574) and discovered an advert for 'Leviathan Rising' on the back. The guys at Abaddon have done a great job with their pulp, pseudo-Victorian piece of advertising.

You can check it out for yourselves as I've posted it here. And in only a couple of weeks the book itself will be published so you'll be able to catch up with Ulysses Quicksilver's latest thrilling adventure.