Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Immortalised in print

Long time readers of this blog will already know that Michelle Powell won a competition last year to appear as a character within the pages of Ulysses Quicksilver's most recent adventure, Human Nature.

You can catch her cameo appearance in Chapter One, when Miss Michelle Powell - velocipede driver and budding amateur engineer - visits consulting detective Gabriel Wraith.

Michelle kindly sent me some photos of herself* holding her signed personalised copy of the book, as you can see here.

If you missed out yourself last time, you may be interested to know that I am currently considering running a similar competition this time tied to Ulysses Quicksilver's fifth exciting outing, entitled Blood Royal. So watch this space for more details!

* Apologies to Michelle for the lateness of me posting this. My excuse is that I've been caught up with writing the follow-up to Human Nature, Evolution Expects.

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JG in Mass Movement Magazine

For those of you secretly harbouring punk rock or heavy metal tendencies, you might be interested to know that there is a feature about me in the 10th anniversary issue of Mass Movement magazine.

It's under the title of 'It Ruined My Life', which is slightly extreme, but when you read it, it should make a lot more sense. You can get hold of your own copy here.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

The old work-life-writing balancing act

As someone who spent years trying to juggle a full-time job, pursuing my dream of being a writer and having something at least approximating 'a life' I can sympathise with David Bishop.

On his blog today he talks about struggling with balancing his new work commitments (he's involved in setting up a Creative Writing MA at Edinburgh Napier University) whilst trying to make it as a screenwriter.

David's is a blog I follow regularly, partly out of a general nosiness, seeing what other writers are up to, and partly because he talks a lot of sense about the whole writing thing in general.

His post concludes thus:

More than ever, I have to be disciplined about carving out space for writing - and space for living. I refuse to let my part-time job become an excuse for not pursuing my goals, objective, ambitions or dreams as a writer.

If that means writing from 6.30 every morning for two hours before going to work, so be it. If that means coming home and writing for another three hours in the evening after work, so be it. If you want to succeed, you have to be willing to make sacrifices. Whining about too much work won't get the job done. Nobody owes you a living as a writer, the world isn't holding its breath for your stories. You have to make time.

You have to write with all the heart and talent and craft and brains that you've got. You have to push yourself to do better, challenge yourself to come up with a better line of dialogue, a better scene, a better story. You've got to make things happen, take responsibility for your successes and failures, validate yourself through the work you do. Don't expect competitions or prizes or acclaim to make you a complete person as a writer.

It's all on you just like it's all on me - so make it happen. Onwards!

Inspired by David's words I pulled my finger out today and finished the first draft of my latest project - which has seen me burning the candle at both ends, as well as the midnight oil! Now all I have to do is go through all 133,000 odd words of it and turn it into nearer 90,000 words of polished prose before submitting it to my editor. But at least the first draft is finished, and it feels good.

Oh, and that whole work-life balance thing? I gave up my full-time job to help achieve, but when I do actually achieve it, I'll let you know. ;-)

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Abaddon website revamp

Abaddon Books have revamped their website, and very cool it's looking too. (I like the post-it notes in particular.) And that means they've also updated the list of books they'll be publishing before the end of the year.

The sharp-eyed among you will notice that at the end of the list of forthcoming titles is a title called Pax Britannia: Blood Royal, which is the first sneaky peek of my fifth - yes, fifth! - Ulysses Quicksilver adventure.

Now, I must see about getting my author biog updated...

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Words of wisdom

It's funny 'cos it's true...

There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts. ~ Charles Dickens

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Stormslayer on fightingfantasy.com

If you're keen to know more about my forthcoming Fighting Fantasy adventure Stormslayer (published this September by Wizard Books), log on to fightingfantasy.com to read a brief email interview conducted between myself and the site's owner Dave Holt.

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Shiny and new

Angry Robot Books have gone and got themselves a brand new, shiny website, and a funky logo to go with it (see left). They have also revealed what their first titles will be, released this summer.

To find out more, as well as how to join their Angry Robot Army, follow this link.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Thought for the day...

"Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs." ~ Christopher Hampton

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Monday, March 9, 2009

This is weird

I have just had a very strange experience. I came across the video below purely by chance. It's basically a guy talking about his experience of playing Spellbreaker. Be warned, it lasts a good 8 minutes, but I watched it to the end.

On one hand it gave me a buzz realising that there's someone on the other side of the world who was equally frustrated and delighted by Spellbreaker (a book I wrote nearly 17 years ago!) and on the other hand, his comments gave the writer inside me something of a wake-up call. That said, it's a wake-up call I've had from other sources over the years and hoping has helped me to improve as a writer (particularly of adventure gamebooks).

You'll be able to judge for yourself come September, when Stormslayer, my sixth Fighting Fantasy adventure, will be published by Wizard Books. Just bear in mind that when I wrote Spellbreaker I was trying my darnedest to catch out the cheats, and as a consequence probably punished the honourable players too much as well. However, with Stormslayer I was aiming for a fun reading/gaming experience that would stand a number of re-plays. I look forward to reading your reviews on Amazon later this year.

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STORMSLAYER and the Fighting Fantasy re-launch

I am very excited to be able to reveal to you today that on 3 September 2009, my twenty-third book Stormslayer will be published - and it's another Fighting Fantasy gamebook!

That's right, Fighting Fantasy is back with a vengeance. The premier adventure gamebook series is being re-packaged and re-launched, with the first four titles being The Warlock of Firetop Mountain (of course), The Citadel of Chaos, Deathtrap Dungeon and Stormslayer, the first new title in two years.

Stormslayer - cover mock-up

Stormslayer is a classic FF adventure, featuring everything from dragons to giants, via wizards and a certain magical sword. I will be revealing more about it in the weeks to come, but one of the things I am most excited about is that it is being illustrated by the fantastically talented Stephen Player.

Stephen will be known to fans of Terry Pratchett's Discworld and, having contributed paintings to various Discworld calendars and illustrated The Illustrated Wee Free Men.

One of the things I enjoy most about writing a Fighting Fantasy gamebook is, once I've finished the text, waiting to see what the artist makes of my illustration briefs, bringing the world I have created to life. So far I've only had a taste of what Stephen's doing for Stormslayer, but that taste has made me hungry for more.

And in case this post has whet your appetite, to keep you going 'til the next one, here's the blurb from the back of the book.

After years of peace, the kingdom of Femphrey is at war again – and this time it’s with the elements! Devastating storms sweep across the country, destroying all in their path. Blizzards and floods threaten some areas while others suffer the worst droughts seen in centuries. But is this climate chaos all it appears to be? Or is there some dark design to this meteorological meltdown?

YOU are a seasoned adventurer, known throughout the land. You have battled giants and slain dragons, but how can even a veteran warrior like yourself fight the weather? Are YOU ready to take up the challenge and face the perils that await you within the eye of the storm?

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Sunday, March 8, 2009

What could you do with 202 litres of Diet Coke and 523 Mentos?

Having just watched Richard Hammond's Engineering Connections, part of which had him explaining how North Sea gas comes out of the seabed under pressure, I was reminded of this well-known 'experiment'. If you've not seen it yourself before, enjoy.

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New Beast Quest page at my store

World Book Day saw the release of the latest Beast Quest adventure, Sephir the Storm Monster. Its publication also heralds the launch of the new Beast Quest website, which you can access here.

To celebrate, my online store now has a new Beast Quest page, which includes the very latest series of six books - the fourth to be exact - The Amulet of Avantia. Click here to visit my store or follow the link on the right at the top of the page.

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Friday, March 6, 2009

Saturday Morning Watchmen

Today, Watchmen the movie is released right across the country. But have you seen this Saturday morning kids TV version before?

(Kudos to David Bishop for this one.)

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I heard the news today, oh boy!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Happy World Book Day 2009!

In case you didn't already know, today is World Book Day. So, seeing as how I now make a living from my books, I thought I would let everyone know about the different sorts of books I write and present something of a back catalogue for your perusal.

I am currently writing a series of steampunk science fiction action/adventure novels for Abaddon Books, featuring dandy hero of the British Empire, Ulysses Quicksilver. There are currently three books in the series - Unnatural History, Leviathan Rising, Human Nature - with a fourth, Evolution Expects, published in May, and with more to come after that. To find out more about the world of Pax Britannia click here.

To date I have had five Fighting Fantasy gamebooks published. They are Spellbreaker, Knights of Doom, Curse of the Mummy, Bloodbones and Howl of the Werewolf.

So far I have written a Doctor Who: Decide Your Destiny interactive adventure gamebook entitled The Horror of Howling Hill and have contributed to the 2010 Official Doctor Who Annual (published this August).

I have also c0-written two Sonic the Hedgehog adventure gamebooks, Theme Park Panic and Stormin' Sonic.

I have written three fantasy novels set within Games Workshop's Warhammer world. They are The Dead and the Damned, Magestorm and Necromancer.

I have also written three science fiction novels set within Games Workshop's far future medieval universe of Warhammer 40,000. There are two books about the Black Templars and the Armageddon Campaign - Crusade for Armageddon and Conquest of Armageddon - and a stand-alone adventure entitled Iron Hands.

I have written a number of non-fiction books as well. The most recent of these are Match Wits with the Kids, Go, Go Crazy for those Bones and What is Myrrh Anyway? Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Christmas.

As well as books I have also had published various novellas, short stories, comic strips and magazine articles.

I also go school visits and library talks. If you would like me to come into your school or local library to talk about any of my books or the writing process in general, please email me at paxbritannia@hotmail.co.uk.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A red herring?


A Victorian Feast

If you're a fan of the Victorians or Victoriana, the recent television schedules will have been a delight.

First there was The Victorian Farm which also brought about another showing of Alan Hart-Davis's wonderful What the Victorians Did For Us.

Then there's Jeremy Paxman's The Victorians, which is still being aired and last night Channel 4 showed Heston's Victorian feast.

If you missed any of the above, click on the appropriate programme title to find out more.

And released this Friday (along with Watchmen) is The Young Victoria. Who needs the twenty-first century anyway?


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Now that's what I'm talkin' about!

Yesterday I received my subscriber's copy of Judge Dredd Megazine #282 and was just blown away by the cover.

I am a huge fan of Colin MacNeil's art and actually own a few pages of his (some painted 2000AD strip and a few black and white ink washes from the sadly missed Warhammer Monthly). I've also met the guy and he's a top bloke. If I ever get into writing comics again, I would feel honoured to work on a story with him.

Anyway, the cover promotes the Dan Abnett-scripted Insurrection, which is now the first thing I read on opening the mag. It's basically Dan does Space Marines, only in Dredd's universe, and Colin's style is identical to that he finished up with on the Warhammer Comic. But that's probably, in part, why I love it so.

And general consensus of opinion appears to be that this is a classic in the making. Another reason would have to be the CATT* units that appeared this week - a wonderful piece of inspired design by Colin.

So for the time being I'm getting a regular fix of Battlefleet Gothic-inspired war-fleets, Mega-City Judges in power armour and a good old-fashioned Warhammer 40K future war story, beautifully rendered by one of my favourite artists in my monthly dose of Megazine-styled Thrill-power.
If you've not seen it for yourself, check it out here, or alternatively wait for the bound-to-be trade paperback, to be published in a year or so.

*Combat All-Terrain Transport.

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Superman for sale

A rare Superman comic is up for sale in New York and is expected to set a new record. A California man is auctioning off his 1st edition Action Comic book, the very first of the Superman comics, after holding onto it for 58 years.

Stephen Fishler, of Metropolis Collectibles, is handling the online auction and says he expects the comic to set a new record for an Action One book, which currently stands at $250,000 (£174,000). Experts say there are about ten high-grade copies of the comic known to exist - those which have not been artificially restored.

The comic - which originally sold for 10 cents at a used book store - lays out the origin of Superman: his birth on another planet and how bullets bounce off him. Some things are a little different: the "S" on his shirt has a slimmer style than today, and back then he could only, "leap over tall buildings in a single bound" rather than fly.

To watch the video about this news item, click here.

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