I love book festivals. I've been to quite a few all around the world. There's nothing better than listening to authors you admire, surrounded by people who love books, talking book things. Therefore it was an amazing experience to take part in my first one as an author.
My publisher organized GollanczFest this year in London and I was lucky enough to take part. My morning was spent with Mark Stay, Tom Lloyd, Gavin Smith, Ed Cox and many others chatting to aspiring writers about their books. And in the afternoon, I was on a panel with Garth Nix, Vic James, and Joe Abercrombie no less, discussing Magic and the Mundane. The day was great fun and everyone was so nice - even if it was a bit surreal sitting backstage with Joe and Ben Aaronovitch while they discussed movie and TV deals.
I found the panel quite nerve-wracking. Forgetting about the 250-odd people watching, it's really hard to be asked a question, try and work out what your answer is, while simultaneously listening to the very funny and experienced authors next to you give their much better answers.
Afterwards, there was a book signing for all the authors and I was lucky enough to have about 5 or 6 people turn up!
While I was in London, I also managed to fit in a reading and interview at the Super Relaxed Fantasy Club, which takes place in the cellar of a pub in King's Cross. I'd heard so many good things about the event and it certainly lived up to all of it.
The incredible Miles Cameron and Ben Aaronovitch also appeared with me. I got a really good reaction from the crowd, who laughed at my bad jokes all the way through.
Reading while a spotlight shines on your face is not easy in case you were wondering!
After GollanczFest, my publishers had a one day KIndle sale and you could buy WE ARE THE DEAD for 99p. Obviously a bargain and my little book shot to No 1 in 3 different categories and reached 46 in the UK Kindle chart overall.
That's not bad company to be in eh?
Finally I managed a flying visit to the awesome BristolCon where I appeared on a panel called WE DON"T NEED ANOTHER HERO, hosted by Peter Newman. Again great fun and I saw some wonderful people there.
And of course, the best thing about being back in the UK was hanging out with family for the first time in ages, especially my dad and No 1 fan, Arthur Shackle
WE ARE THE DEAD has been out for a week now and a few reviews are coming in - all of which have been amazing. It was even in this months SFX magazine! Unbelievable. Here are some quotes:
Thank you to everyone who's taken the time to read the book and comment.
Wow. It's here at last. My book is out in the world. I still can't believe it. Even though there's been lots of chatter about it and I've seen pictures of it, I still can't believe it. It's been a long journey as this blog shows - ups and downs and everything in between.
Mike 'Everest' Evans tweeted this picture today. And there's my book next to R.F. Kuang's (author of one of my favourite's from last year) and, on the left, the special edition of Peter Brett's The Painted Man. Do you know how crazy that is for me to see that? The Painted Man got me back into fantasy. It made me want to write my own stories. I've queued up to get books signed by Peter in New York and London. He's the man.
And then this was tweeted:
Just thinking Peter might read 'my' book was incredible. God knows what I'll be like if he actually does read it.
Sometimes I think I shouldn't fanboy now that I'm a published author (and yeah, I am a Published Author!) but I can't change. I'll always be a fan first and foremost.
But wow, what a day.
It's hard to believe that in 8 days time, my book will be out in the world. How long have I dreamed of this moment? It's hard to get my head around it if I'm being honest. Yesterday I listened in disbelief at an extract from the audio book. It sounded so good. And there seems a genuine buzz to the book among the bloggers. Crazy.
Glen Cook is the master, the legend, the man. He's the author of the amazing Chronicles of the Black Company and one of the modern masters of Fantasy as we know it today.
He's a big deal. And he's read my book. Yes, Glen motherf@£$ing Cook read my book. It may sound weird but that alone blows my mind.
Even better — he liked it. In fact, he loved it. This is what he said:
I see why you're excited about this project. Likely the next Game of Thrones. Best book I've read in several years. Erikson, Martin, and Rothfuss are going to have to shove over and make room at the bar. A gem. Not one likable character in the swamp but I still became totally emotionally engaged. I can't think how to tone down my enthusiasm so I don't sound completely over-the-top.
I have a hard time believing this is not someone who has been polishing his craft for a dozen years under a more familiar name. And, despite (to me) the random oddly spelled word, the story had more of an American than British feel.
You have my permission to even put words in my mouth to promote this project, if you want. It's so damned GOOD! Get yourself a sharp stick and start poking this guy to get on with the further volumes."
I mean Wow! It doesn't get much better than that.
Glen Cook loved my book. Excuse me now, I have to go sit down.
WE ARE THE DEAD is out with authors and bloggers at the moment to help get the word out there.
Gavin Smith, author of the Bastard Legion, wrote a rave review: "Hooked from page one, We Are the Dead rattles along with the pace of a runaway bullet train. Original, engaging, flawed but very-human characters draw us into a world rent by war, a world of brutal occupation, tarnished honour and devastating magics. This is a powerful debut and Shackle is an author to watch.'
Obviously, this blew me away. I thought it couldn't get any better than that. However, Peter McLean author of Priest of Bones, posted this review on Goodreads:
"We are the dead.
One invasion. Six months of brutal occupation. Eight days of blood.
In a world reminiscent of Warring States period Japan crossed with WWII Occupied France, the revolution is coming.
This book has everything you could want from that premise: The Resistance. A Samurai general's disgraced daughter forced to face up to her responsibilities and become a hero. Faceless enemy stormtroopers and sadistic magic SS officers. A single mother forced into the Resistance against her will. Nightmarish genetically-engineered monsters. A teenage terrorist leading a cadre of suicide bombers. The choice between duty and starvation in a civilian reality where the Resistance are every bit as dangerous as the enemy.
Hell, this thing could have been written just for me. It's like Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds crossed with David Gemmell in a quasi-Asian fantasy setting, and it is absolutely splendid. Shackle has come up with something really special here, and I enjoyed it enormously.
We are the Shulka and we are the dead.'
Wow. It doesn't get much better than that, does it? I especially loved the 'Tarantino crossed with Gemmell line.
Finally, today Kate, from the Bibliophile Book Club, posted this:
'It was just stunning. Dark, violent but with ultimately human issues at its core. Survival, family and loyalty woven beautifully through the narrative. Highly recommended for sure!'
I'm a very happy author right now.
I came across a review of WE ARE THE DEAD on www.thebookbag.co.uk today and I was thrilled to say the least. "This is a brilliant and unusual book in which a cast of characters, wholly unconnected to each other, work together to take back their land, their rights and their freedom. This is a book about bravery, about fellowship and about not being a hero."
It was just what I needed to pick me up. Thank you Ruth!
Peter wrote one of my favourite books of last year, PRIEST OF BONES so it made my day to see him tweet he was (a) reading my book and (b) that he's enjoying it...