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...
Gollancz have been sending out ARCS (Advanced Reader Copies) to some authors to read and hopefully say a nice thing or two. The above picture was posted on twitter by the awesome Gavin Smith, author of THE BASTARD LEGION amongst other great Sci-Fi epics. The great Pete McLean of PRIEST OF LIES also posted a picture.
Now I've known for nearly 18 months now that my book is published and yet there's something amazing at actually seeing it in the flesh as it were, a real thing. It's kinda freaky. I can't imagine what it'll be like when I actually hold a copy myself. Hopefully they'll be winging their way to me soon...
My book is available on Netgalley for reviewers now and I've already had my first review. Amanda said "Very detailed and graphic storyline. I enjoyed getting to know the characters and the world building surrounding the culture of the shulka. This is bound to be a hit." It doesn't get much better than that...
I finished checking the page proofs of WATD last night. This is what 160,000 words of monsters, mayhem and magic look like. I really enjoyed reading the book again — which has to be a good thing. I found the odd typo here and there but the big thing I caught was a whole page missing!
Book 2 is so close to being done. I wasted a lot of time last week going on a story detour that I ended up scrapping when I realised I'd been an idiot... still onwards....
I'm in the end run of writing book 2 before it goes off to my agent and editor. It stands at 160,000 words at the moment and I think I have approx 20,000 to go, making it without a doubt the biggest book I've ever written. I'm super happy with it at the moment after a long struggle at times.
I'm also going through the page proofs of WE ARE THE DEAD, looking for any mistakes that might have snuck past everyone. I've found a few so it's a very worthwhile exercise...
And not long now before it goes out into the world... eek.
There are a few characters in WE ARE THE DEAD. One of them is a teenage psychopath called Dren. I like him a lot (even though I shouldn't). He likes knives, bombs and has no time for authority.
It's out in the world at last. The cover to my book. People will see this on the shelves. They will hold it in their hands. They will read what's within. In four months' time. EEEEEEK!
It's been a long process getting here but it's been so worth it. Created by the design team at Gollancz, I really love it. A little bit scary for sure but oh so memorable... One day, when the kids are older, I'll have this framed on my office wall...