I've been doing a lot of cartooning since we entered COVID-19 isolation. It started really as a way of escaping the fear and dread I had about everything. Then it became just a fun thing to do.
Here's one I made about finding the time to write.
I had a lot of fun yesterday taking part in a virtual con, organized by the amazing David Walters of FanFiAddict fame. He arranged seven panels throughout the day with the most amazing list of authors. I was lucky enough to be on a panel discussing world-building with Justin Call, Brain Naslund, Andrea Stewart and Luke Arnold. Here's the video
It's a strange experience when you see your cover for the first time - you've sweated and strained for months and months on something that lives in your brain so clearly and now it's someone else's turn to interpret your vision into something that hopefully will stand out on the shelves and attract people to buy it.
Then there is the utter joy when you see something so wonderful, you have to do a happy dance... Needless to say I love this cover.
I've been bad at updating this blog but that doesn't mean nothing's been happening! I'm making slow progress on Book 3, Book 2 - A Fool's Hope - is all done and waiting for the copy edits and We Are The Dead continues to get good reviews. The paperback is out on May 5th everywhere in the world, including the US and Canada and is a thing of beauty.
Hopefully this one will be more readily available in the shops!
We Are The Dead has also been nominated in the prestigious Booknest Fantasy awards in both the Best Traditionally Published Novel section and the Best Debut. I doubt very much that it will progress to the short list but chuffed that my little book has this recognition.
You can vote here
The sequel to WE ARE THE DEAD is now available to pre-order on Amazon. It's a big book — 195,000 words of epic adventures. All the favourites are back — Tinnstra, Dren, Jax and Yas plus some new faces as well.
War takes everything.
From Tinnstra, it took her family and thrust her into a conflict she wanted only to avoid. Now her queen's sole protector, she must give everything she has left to keep Zorique safe.
It has taken just as much from Jia's revolutionaries. Dren and Jax - battered, tortured, once enemies themselves - now must hold strong against their bruised invaders, the Egril.
For the enemy intends to wipe Jia from the map. They may have lost a battle, but they are coming back. And if Tinnstra and her allies hope to survive, Jia's heroes will need to be ready when they do.
The sequel to the darkly fantastic WE ARE THE DEAD: with more unflinching action, A FOOL'S HOPE sees Jia's revolutionaries dig in their heels as they learn that wars aren't won in a day.
Surprising no one, I'm a massive Star Wars fan. I have been since I was 8 years old and saw A New Hope in the cinema, right back when it was just 'Star Wars'. It blew my mind and obsessed my imagination since then. Didn't enjoy the prequels that much (but who did) but I've really enjoyed all the new Disney films. So as you can imagine I was desperate to see Rise of Skywalker.
I saw it for the first time a few days ago and loved the experience as I watched it. It was so fast, it gave little time to think or catch your breath. I left the cinema a very happy man. But the more I thought about it, the more problems I had with it. Big problems.
I saw it a second time and those problems started to outweigh the enjoyment because my brain wasn't saying 'What's next?' but 'Huh?'
But was fun was had and I'll be just as excited when the next one comes around. Because I'm Star Wars for life.
rAs it one of those times for looking back, I thought I'd share my decade in writing.
2009: abandoned my third attempt to write a book
2010: Started writing Cry Havoc, concentrating on 500 words a day, after getting a kick up the backside from my wife.
2011: still writing Cry Havoc, wonder if I'll ever finish it.
2012: Finish Cry Havoc, submit to agents, get lots of nice rejections. Start writing Switchblade.
2013: Finish Switchblade. Submit to agents. Get nice rejections, then get an offer of representation but told Switchblade is uncommercial. "Can you write something else?" Yes!
2014: Start writing He Who Fights. Star this blog. Six months in, lose agent.
2015: Writing HWF. Get introduced to another agent, who may have a deal for Switchblade. Get ghosted by that agent when deal doesn't happen.
2016: Finish HWF. Submit to agents, nice rejections, etc etc. Demotivated. About to give up. Discover Bestseller Experiment Podcast. Start Writing We Are The Dead.
2017. Finish WATD, send to only one agent, sign with him. Hear Mark Dawson on BXP, release Switchblade. Proves to be uncommercial. Rewrite Cry Havoc. Get into the top ten in US, UK and Australia. Release HWF, get into top ten in US, UK, Australia.
2018. Sign three book deal with Gollancz. Write Cry Fear, sequel to Cry Havoc, and Cry Witch, a novella. Start writing A Fool's Hope. Think I've got this writing thing sussed. Then abandon first two drafts of AFH at 65,000 words each. Wonder if I'll ever write something good again.
2019: Turns out AFH is bloody difficult to write but get it done and everyone is very happy. Write and draw my first kid's book. Print only one copy for my daughter. Start writing Book 3 of WATD. Appear on a panel with my heroes. Appear on BXP. WATD goes to number 1 on Amazon. Sit back and think wow! This is an insane journey — and I'm so glad I didn't give up!
Happy 2020 everyone.
It's an amazing feeling to see your book out in the world but this picture really made me happy. It's from my favourite bookshop in Singapore. When I lived there, I spent most Saturdays wandering amongs the shelves.
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