The Winter Road. The other road.

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Writing and publishing

My second novel is called The Winter Road and it’s out in November. It’s been a journey.

Books – The Fifth Season & Nigerians In Space

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As saddened by the whole Hugo ‘puppy’ bullshit as any right-thinking person would be, it did introduce me to The Fifth Season, so thank you for that guys.

Newsletter #4 – Scythians, Gods and Rogues

Posted Posted in Misc.

This is a big chunk of my latest newsletter. I’ll drop them in here from time to time so you can see the kind of things that my subscribers have agreed to be sent to their inbox, those lucky/weird people (delete as appropriate)…

Books: The Southern Reach trilogy

Posted Posted in Books

I love Jeff Vandermeer’s work because I love HP Lovecraft’s work. But I enjoy Vandermeer more. Horror describes the ways in which people strive to escape the painful and grisly annihilation of the self. It can be personal or impersonal, understandable or insensate. It can also describe our confrontation with the unfathomable.

Newsletter #1

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Misc., Writing and publishing

Here’s the contents of the first newsletter I sent out recently to my first couple of subscribers :) If you’d like some of this in your inbox occasionally, you can sign up via the link on the left! The future is quieter.

Every step you take…

Posted Posted in Misc.

…aka ‘Why I’ve decided to boycott Facebook and Google.’

Books – Aurora and Ninefox Gambit

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I’m reading a bit of sci-fi at the moment as I’m woefully under-read in the genre. How lovely to have these two line up back to back.

Books – Dark Tales

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Dark Tales, by Shirley Jackson, is a hugely effective collection of short gothic horror stories written in the fifties and sixties. She died in ’65. I confess, like many I’ve spoken to about this book, not to have heard of her until a recent review of this collection, many of which were originally published in The […]

Books – The Familiar Volume 1 & A Stranger In Olondria

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“But preserve your mistrust of the page, for a book is a fortress, a place of weeping, the key to a desert, a river that has no bridge, a garden of spears.”  Sofia Samatar I’ve long been fascinated by virtuosi and recently I’ve read two almost without equal.

Books – Senlin Ascends & The Sudden Appearance of Hope

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I do almost all my reading on the bus. Thus, my go-to indicator of a great read is how surprised I am that I’ve reached my destination.

Books – The Name of the Wind

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“I was brilliant. Not just your run-of-the-mill brilliance either. I was extraordinarily brilliant.”

Books – Beyond Redemption and Hunters & Collectors

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In the last few weeks I’ve read two great books; both are clever and both feature a strong central trio of characters.

Books – The Buried Giant & The Quarantined City

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Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant bolsters the list of fantasy genre writing that pushes its boundaries and should invigorate the genre’s authors and fans.

Last week: Art, devils, witches and death

Posted Posted in Misc.

They’ve always seemed easy to parody, the Abstract Expressionists. ‘They just flicked paint about’, ‘can’t they draw?’ etc. So I was as surprised as anyone to fall in love at the RA exhibition last weekend.

Books – The Vorrh

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Brian Catling’s The Vorrh is a very beautifully written book, with the most unforgettable first chapter I’ve read in years.

I look up

Posted Posted in Games

All my life, on a clear night, I look up. The vast, hypnotising beauty of eternity surrounds us; unmediated, glorious, silent. A tilt of my head pinions me helplessly on the spear of my curiosity, my meaning. I want to explore.

Chicago World Fair

Books – Against The Day

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Where do I begin? While this is not my favourite book, it is the best novel I’ve read. Pynchon, for me, is the most accomplished writer in English alive. Here is my impossible benchmark.

Books – Jonathan Strange & Mr.Norrell

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If the awards and critical acclaim have not steered you towards the fractious company of the two foremost English magicians of the nineteenth century, then it is unlikely my meagre addition to the chorus will tip the balance. Nevertheless, I exhort you to go get this enchanting novel.

Billie and Amy

Posted Posted in Misc.

Amy Winehouse had voice to burn, a sound burnished by a drunk god showing off, like He took a bet to make another Billie Holiday and won the bet with a sad contempt.

Frank Sobotka

Posted Posted in Misc.

David Simon’s The Wire is high on all lists of unmissable television.  I’ve heard many people describe season 2 as the weakest season. I completed it over the weekend and hope this is true, if only because it was riveting.

Books – The Violent Century

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This is a story about superheroes in the second world war and beyond, a counterfactual fantasy. At first you will rightly think of Watchmen and X-Men but Lavie Tidhar has created something here that is more bleak and more noir, as though the X-Men had been re-told by John le Carré.

Hiding the ventriloquist*

Posted Posted in Writing and publishing

“My name’s Gant and I’m sorry for my poor writing.” So begins chapter one of Snakewood. As I planned out the book I fretted a great deal over how to immerse readers in the lands, cities and lives of the world of Sarun, in which the story is set. I recalled how vividly I daydreamed […]

It’s Snakewood launch day :) Listen to Chapter 1 here:

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If it doesn’t show up, check your ad blockers!

I used to stand in bookshops pt 2

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I was gearing up for March 17th, when I’d finally see my book sit quietly on a shelf alongside hundreds of others, as though it was the most ordinary thing; just a book, on a shelf. I was preparing myself to be, well, a bit underwhelmed? The anticipation couldn’t possibly deliver a satisfying payoff, so […]

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They followed their mercenary calling…*

Posted Posted in Writing and publishing

The poem ‘Epitaph On An Army Of Mercenaries’ by AE Housman** is one of my favourites, and graces Snakewood as its foreword. It was an influence on the novel not so much because it happened to be about mercenaries, but because I had challenged myself to tell a story about them such that a reader […]

Cliffe Fort Jetty

Books – The Bone Clocks

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The title of David Mitchell’s marvellous book almost fully encapsulates it, as all its characters, deathless or otherwise, serve its dominant theme: the misery of ageing.

Slaine has a warp spasm

How Sláine and a handful of mushrooms defined the magic of Snakewood*

Posted Posted in Writing and publishing

My debut fantasy novel Snakewood, due out in March, is the realization of a world I first dreamed up as a teenage boy. I’d like to introduce you to the way magic works in that world – no lightshows and fireworks, just thick bad-tasting gloop known as ‘fightbrew’ that makes you superhuman!

Snakewood

I used to stand in bookshops…

Posted Posted in Writing and publishing

…as a teenager, then a man in my twenties and thirties and I used to look at the science fiction and fantasy novels and believe I, also, was a writer, when I wasn’t.

The Children Act

Books – The Children Act

Posted Posted in Books

I’ve written here about my miserable realisation I wouldn’t read more than a couple of thousand books in my lifetime, if I really went for it.  I thus struggle to read more than one or two books by any author because there are so many more authors to read.  How could I read another Philip […]

Hawk Helen MacDonald

Books – H is for Hawk

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Helen Macdonald has opened her soul, and unlike most of us, is able to articulate its pain and its healing with a beautiful and haunting power.