Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Yeeee-haw! Dragon Frontier!

A lot of people have been asking me about my new book "Dragon Frontier", so let me answer some of the most pressing questions:

What is the title of your next book?
“Dragon Frontier”.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
Andy Lanning and I work on ideas together for comic books for the American comics market, and this was one of the ideas that we tossed around. When Puffin suggested that I wrote it as a children’s book, it really began to come together.

What genre does your book fall under?
This is very definitely a children’s book, but I hope that parents and carers reading it to children will enjoy it too.

What actors would you choose to play the parts of your characters in a movie rendition?
I love casting the characters in my books and imagining the stories being played out on the big screen. This story is set in the American Wild West frontier, and should include lots of young, unknown talent, so I think a big open casting session would be the order of the day. The other key thing would be to employ some of the greatest CGI animators in the World to recreate the scenes with the other main characters in the novel, the dragons!

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Jake Polson and his family are starting a new life on the American Frontier. Twelve-year-old Jake is proud to drive the lead wagon; he's in charge of the oxen and minding his Ma and little sister. But tragedy strikes and Jake must venture deep into the West in search of a legendary creature to save his family. What he discovers in that vast landscape is wilder than he ever imagined. Out on the frontier, an evil force is waiting . . . According to the blurb.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
“Dragon Frontier” is published by Puffin and will be available to buy on January 3rd 2013.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
This book was very special, because, after writing more than forty novels, it was my first especially written for children. In the end it all happened very fast, and the first draft was probably completed in less than three months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? 
This is such a first for me that I prefer not to make comparisons. It’s about cowboys and dragons. It’s about the Wild West and mythical beasts. It’s about family and faith, tradition and suspicion. It’s about the past and the future.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I was a keen reader as a child, and I loved reading to my own children, so it was only ever a matter of time before I would write a book for children. I think I’ve always been inspired by the memory of the excitement that a really good book can give you as a child, by the idea that going to bed is fun, because you get to read the next chapter of your favourite book. And, of course, I’ve been inspired by every great writer for children that it has been my pleasure and privilege to read, from Alan Garner to Arthur Ransome, from Paul Biegel to Susan Cooper, from...

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
What could be more interesting than dragons? Or cowboys? Or dragons? No, cowboys! No, dragons!

Thursday, September 27, 2012


So, this happened.

And it was bloody great.

Let's start at the beginning. It is Sunday, the Day of Days, the dawn of Games Day UK 2012. Imagine, gentle reader, that you're standing in the foyer of the internationally famous and renowned* Hilton Metropole NEC after a boozy night and a great dinner with the BL staffers. Lo, The Writers begin to congregate. That's right, The Writers. Capital "T", capital "Writers". Up they shamble to join the walking bus over to the convention centre.

And who was first?


Aaron? Really? First up? REALLY? I know I'm a clean living soul these days, up with the larks and fresh as a daisy dipped in prometheum, but I never thought ADB would be the first shambler to join me. Anyway, Aaron held forth while I took this photo of him in the hotel lobby, but he shut up when...

Get your hands off my woman, motherfether.

... Nik joined him. Then came...

Never ask the man on the right about bounty hunting. Or the arms trade.
 Unless you want to hear Seriously Amazing Stories.

... our favourite demented cherub, Mr Joshua Reynolds, closely followed by...

Mr Swallow was amazingly good humoured despite losing
 two fingers in a freak "sliding door" accident earlier that day. 

... Jim Swallow, who was in charge of the bus, because he and only he knew where the convention centre ACTUALLY WAS in relation to us and the internationally famous and renowned** Hilton Metropole NEC. Then it only remained for us all to await the arrival of...

ADB: "Keep laughing and Graham won't hurt us!"
GM: "That's what you think."

...Graham McNeill, because who does anything or goes anywhere on GamesDay without the Mighty McNeill himself? That's right... no one!

Only minutes later, rain drenched and weary, we arrived at the NEC. Ah, my brethren. My comrades, my Fellow Writers, those who stood with me in the rain at Scrotal Gate and the Field Of Shite...

Anyhoo, we donned wrist-bands - well, see, some of us donned wrist-bands, others rebelled (okay, that may have been me. I apologise to the guy on door duty who had to deal with my refusenik moment) - collected backpacks, and headed for signing tables.

There awaited a sight to behold!

First there was the Abnett Maze (or "Dan's Labyrinth" as Nik calls it) where all the lovely people gathered to meet me.

Amazement in the Maze.

Then there were all the lovely people that couldn't fit into the Abnett Maze, which we simply called 'The Queue'.
Sometimes a euphemism is only a euphemism.

I was glad to be sitting at the head of it, although I did stand at the tail for a minute or two, just for the hell of it. Yes, I stood in my own queue and asked who we were queueing for. And people told me, bless 'em.

Then they did a double take.

I am such a rascal.

A rascal, earlier.

I'm not going to claim that my hand got as tired signing stuff as other people's feet got shuffling about in the Maze, but I did kill three Sharpies. Count them... THREE!

I also wore out a bit of shoe leather getting up and down to have my picture taken with some of you lovely folks. There is mucho evidence of this on FaceBook and Twitter.

Some of the time I wasn't allowed to stand. Some of the time, I was forced to remain seated.

Regan and her raygun.

I was, of course, more than happy to stand for the Tanith when they turned up, first one at a time,

Then severally.

And, finally, en masse.

Best Tanith ink of the day goes to this dude:

The Commissar kept everyone in line.

And, just like in the books, the Blood Pact are never far away.

So imbued with Chaos, he literally turned 
the air around him red. Chaos... or photoshop.

So I'd like to thank you all, all of you, for coming along and making the day so memorable. I hope you had as good a time as I did. Til next winter...

*Yeah, maybe not that much, actually.

**The more I think about it, you know....

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Third Vid-Blog!

 I must perform appropriate public service duties and post up this link to the third of my new vid-blogs. It's been on my Facebook page for a few days now - I apologise for the tardiness in putting it up here.

I had immense fun at the 2000AD Birthday Signing at Forbidden Planet London this past weekend, and I imagine that everyone (everyone who lives and breathes Warhammer and 40K, anyway) is now girding their loins for Games Day UK. Pariah will be out... the first few copies are already floating around.

Excited yet?

One questions... how are loins girded exactly?

Oh, and this is simply great. If it doesn't make you smile, then... well, it doesn't...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Hey! Hey, you!

No time to explain! You just need to know that the second of the fresh batch of video-blogs is now up and ready to view!

Go and look at it! Go on! Now!

What are you waiting for?


(Are you still here?)

Monday, August 20, 2012

This Way Comes...

That's right, Magic, ladies and gentlemen! It's a new anthology of original fiction from Solaris, and I've got a story in it (among some illustrious company).  But don't just take my word for it... or rather DO, because that blather segues rather neatly into this link, which will take you to the first of my new batch of recently recorded video-blogs, answering your latest round of questions. Many more chunks to come, but this one starts the ball rolling with a chat about Magic, and other forthcoming projects.

Thanks for all the questions, by the way. They were great and various and very probing. You should all be interrogators for the Holy Ordos.  I'll be posting up new vlog segments every few days, so stay tuned.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Your Author Needs Questions

First of all... this!

I thought many people would like to see this. The wonderful audio book version of Embedded produced by the splendid people at Brilliance. End of September release date, as I understand it.

Second of all... I'm going to be doing some more video blogging, so I need questions to answer... or at least to use as prompts from which to ramble indiscriminately for half a fething hour until I remember the point of what I was saying.

Please send them in. ASAP!*

*Please note "Why did you kill Bragg?" is not a question.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Look! It's him! We thought he was never coming back!

"Where have you been?" they all asked.

"Why haven't you blogged for SO long, even by your immensely lackadaisical not-to-mention actually crappy standards of keeping a blog going?" they asked, in addition. "Have you been sick? Missing in action? Lovelorn? Off on a path of self-discovery and spiritual enlightenment? Lost down the back of the sofa?"

Yes, all of those things, probably. I've been working. Working very hard. It's no excuse, but I have. It's well established that I keep myself inhumanly busy (or am, alternatively, just one of an army of clones)  so for me to admit that I've been working very hard... that's something. That probably means it's a big deal.

Not only have I been too busy to blog properly, I also haven't been able to talk about some of the exciting things that have been keeping me so busy. Three or four (or five) of them, actually. That will change soon. Announcements of unrivalled sexy-ness are coming. Until then, you must walk the line and stay patient, just a little while longer.

But never let it be said I don't give you stuff. The first of the new season's big excitements is here... in advanced form, at least. I invite you to...  look at this

Nice, huh? I'll blog about it soon to whet your appetite. May I also take this moment to direct you to The Hypernaturals (from Boom!) and The New Deadwardians (from Vertigo) which are both getting rave reviews from all quarters.

And it may be as busy as Piccadilly Circus during the Olympics Opening Ceremony on the work front, but here at least are a few places you're going to be able to find me over the next few months. If you want to, that is.

2000AD - 35 years of Thrillpower

The Black Library Expo, Chestermere, Canada

The Black Library Weekender

The 2000AD signing is going to be a blast, and we hope to see you at one of the nationwide signings... and the BL events are going to be HUGE, so try not to miss both of them.

Right. Back to work. I won't go missing in action for quite so long this time, I promise.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Free Comic Book Day -- Hypernaturals!

This Saturday, the 5th of May, it's Free Comic Book Day... a ridiculously simple reason to support your local comic book shop. Free comics! You see? The clue's in the title. Anyway...

... one of the comics you'll be able to pick up for free this Saturday is The Hypernaturals, the new cosmic book Andy and I have created for Boom!

We're really excited about this - which we developed at the invitation of the lovely people at Boom! It isn't just new characters we're inventing, it's a whole new universe. If you liked what we did with the Legion at DC, or cosmic books like Nova and the Guardians of the Galaxy at Marvel, you'll love this. The difference is that we can do stories here that we could never do elsewhere. There are always going to be constraints when you're operating inside the marvel Universe or the DCU: stories that just can't work because they clash too badly with established continuity. With The Hypneraturals, we're making our own rules, and they're going to make for some epic stories.

We're flattered that Boom! has such faith in this book that they've made it their Free Comic Book Day showcase: it's quite an investment. This isn't an advance print of the first issue, this is a whole sixteen page prologue that we've created especially for the event, and it won't be reprinted in the series (expect to see it in the trade collection).  And it's not just sixteen pages of strip either, there's back-up material (a feature we intend to run through the series), helping to build up the universe. There's a preview feature here.

Enjoy Free Comic Book Day, and support your local store... and enjoy The Hypernaturals too! The series debuts in July, and we've got some awesome characters and storylines planned for you.

BTW - if you pick up your Hypernaturals FCBD issue from your local store, and your local store happens to be The Grinning Demon in Maidstone, tell Graham behind the counter if you want yours put aside for me to sign!

Speaking of the Grinning Demon, the convention they ran - DemonCon - was fabulous, and I urge you to attend the next one. It was small but perfectly formed, and I'll write up a report and share a few pics later if I can.

Speaking of signings, I'll be posting soon with advance notice of some big ones later in the year (including Canada!), but for the time being you should know that Graham, Aaron and I will be at the Dublin GW store on Saturday the 26th of May for a mega-signing!

Monday, April 09, 2012

About a book

Can anyone help me? I've been trying to identify a book that I read many years ago, and which I have a very vivid memory of - just not enough of a vivid memory to help pin down an author or title.

It's SF, and I read it in the late seventies, or (at the very outside) the early eighties. It was probably a Gollancz book, because I borrowed it from the local mobile library, and the distinctive yellow hardback covers were a shibboleth of good SF. It was an epic book, and the part I remember (though the book was not just about this incident) was the construction of one or possibly two massive spaceships, possibly arc ships for planetary evacuation. This construction took years, perhaps generations, and then public panic and hysteria led to the ship (ships?) being stormed by mobs while they were on the launch pads. Thousands of people died and the ship (ships?) was (were?) destroyed.

Anybody got any clue what that might have been?

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Suit up!

For your consideration this fine Saturday, the brand new anthology Armored, from Baen, which features brand new military SF short stories on the theme of power armour and mecha warriors. There's some serious writing firepower in this book, including Al Reynolds, Lauren Beukes, Sean Williams, Brandon Sanderson... Look, I tell you what, this is the link you need rather than me just blathering on about the book. It's a great deal more coherent and informative than me. It'll tell you about the contributors, about the content, and about how to get the book as a book or as an ebook.

I bring it to your attention because it's a cracking collection. I also mention it because, yes, I have a story in it. As with all the contributors, I was asked by John, the editor, to tackle the subject of power-armoured soldiers from an angle that interested me. And given my time on the frontline with the Adeptus Astartes, I decided to go somewhere else with the trope for a change. Hence my rather off-beat tale, Death Reported of Last Surviving Veteran of Great War.

I hope you enjoy it. I know you'll enjoy the collection. If in doubt, Keep Calm And Pack Heat.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dead Classy

Mr I. N. J. Culbard and myself, along with colourist Patricia Mulvihill and letterer Travis Lanham, wish to thank everybody very much for the enthusiastic and positive reception that has been afforded to the first issue of our new publication - The New Deadwardians. The first issue was published this week, and it’s already prompted a very creditable reaction*

We’re simply delighted with the response, as is our editor Will Dennis and everyone at Vertigo, and we hope you’ll stay along for the ride as the series continues, and maybe even spread the good word too. If the series is a success, we’ve got other Deadwardians tales we’d very much like the opportunity to tell.

You can read about The New Deadwardians here and here and here, and also download it from Vertigo here.

To celebrate this occasion, it’s time for another blog competition, and a dead posh one it is too. Mr Culbard and I have signed, with our own fair marker pens, two copies of the first issue - the standard version and the variant cover. I will happily send them to the winner.

What do you have to do? Just post a link here to the blog (or email the site) with the most amusing or exotic place you’ve been able to place the phrase ‘The New Deadwardians’. A camera phone snap or a screengrab will do. Have you put it in your Facebook status? Have you spelled it out in magnetic letters on the side of your fridge? Have you written it on a sheet of paper and held it up in front of you on the beach in the Maldives? Have you painted it on the side of Big Ben (okay, don’t actually do that last one)? Entries will be judged on originality and amusement, and our decision will be entirely mercurial and whimsical. Good luck. Entries in by the last week in April, please (in time for the second issue!).

Now I’m off to take Mr Culbard to get the cure, as he’s been showing distinct tendencies of late and the next issue mustn’t fall behind.

Good day to you!

* I can usually tell because of the overnight bump in Twitter followers ;)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Advance notice...

Just thought I'd mention this...

Lots of fun to be had on the day, including the publication of "Stone", a comic project for Maidstone organised by the Grinning Demon, scripted by me, drawn by loads of local talent!

Sunday, March 25, 2012


A man walks into a book.

My book, actually. Last time it happened, it was about thirty four, thirty five books ago, and the man's name was Lijah Cuu.

I've told this story at con panels and in interviews SEVERAL times before, so I'll excuse the stifled yawns at the back. For those who haven't heard it, I'll keep the facts brief: it was writing the fourth Gaunt novel ("Honour Guard") and it was nearly done, and my computer died, ingesting the MS in its violent death throes. That was the day I learned to back up.

Not wishing to miss the print deadline, I had to rewrite the book from scratch, from memory, in a month. And I did. It should have been a disaster, but it wasn't: somehow, writing it from the memory of the first draft freed me up. It was as though it was a performance I'd rehearsed. The month went by in a blur: I was producing words at a frenzied rate, a white heat of creativity. I wasn't even thinking about it - it was almost an automatic writing exercise.

Anyway, the end product - the published version - was much better than the first. In fact, it's amongst my fave Gaunt books. It was also different to the first, lost draft. New characters had appeared in it, even though I had been diligently following the same plot outline. Maybe the spontaneous new characters and side-plots were part of an unconscious effort on my part to keep the rewrite fresh. All I know is, when these new characters turned up, they came as I surprise. I hadn't invited them. They'd just barged their way into the book, and refused to leave. I was under too much pressure to argue with them, and write them back out again, so I left them alone.

One of them was Lijah Cuu. For Gaunt aficionados, the notion that Cuu appeared by accident seems unlikely. He's such a major character, and continues to be the point man for a major plot line for the next few books. He also [does several notorious things that I won't mention as spoilers]. How could I have.... improvised him?

The way I look at it, Cuu was such a fully formed character, I had no choice in the process. I regard it as emblematic of his force and malevolence as a character. And, yes folks, I know it sounds like preposterous bollocks* when an author talks about one of their characters as having a life of their own. Trust me, you didn't have to share an office and head-space with the mad fether for several years.

Anyway, I mention it this sunday morning (I'm in a slightly baffled state, akin to minor jet-lag, because the clocks went forward last night, but I still insisted on getting up at my normal Stupid Early O'clock: the state reminds me of the way I felt during Honour Guard, which is probably what reminded me), because it just happened again.

No. Relax. I didn't lose a book. These days, my back up processes are automatic and have multiple levels of redundancy. But Pariah (which is the first of the Bequin Triology, aka the first part of the final Inquisitor trilogy, aka Eisenhorn Versus Ravenor 1: This Time It's Shooty) is a very (deliciously) creative process. As I mentioned in the blog yesterday (yesterday, eh? Get me!), novels right now are much more prepared and planned than they used to be. I fill notebooks with notes and maps, sketch things out, even write chunks of text about characters for later use (I barely recognise myself!). I'm now in the frenzied writing stage, and was slightly delighted when an unplanned, unscripted event occurred. A man walked into the book. I was mainly slightly delighted, I guess, because it seems like a flash of the good old, bad old days, the old creative process (which I glorify with the name process, but which was really just a case of forcing everything into a small space and then yelling 'bundle!'). It was a glimpse of the pre-Adventures In Epilepsy me, coming into my office, messing up my notes, stealing my glasses, and weeing in my vase, as if to say "Yeah! Deal with that, motherfether".

And I'm also delighted, because I know what happened last time. I don't know who he is yet. He's just looking at me funny and not saying much.

But, just in case, I'm going to warn Bequin.

* Actual literary term.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Journal of the Monkey Years

By rights, and with an infinite number of damn fine monkeys at my disposal, turning out word-counts to order should be easy as peas. Picture me (and I’m sure you do, having no better ways to fill your time*), and I’m certain you picture a one-man manufacturing process, like something from the peak period of the Manchester mills, streaming out vast yardage of words that are pneumatically wound onto bales and then taken to Liverpool by dray for wholesale use in a million everyday knick-knacks, such as novels, superhero comics, shopping lists and emails.

All the while making a deafening clickety-clackety noise.

Well, it’s not like that. For a start, a lot of my time is taken up with secondary but vital parts of the writer’s craft, such as hunting for tea-bags, and inventively swearing at telemarketers (“Cock the fuck off, Arse-bag!”). Also, staring out of the window with a rope of drool depending from the corner of my lip takes a fuck of a long time, okay?

It’s also worth noting. No, seriously, it is. Really useful, I’ve found.

The thing is, writing [insert stupid number] novels doesn’t hone your craft. It just multiplies the ways you can find to write books. It’s not like I got to [insert smaller, but nevertheless still stupid number] novels and thought, “that’s it, then. That’s how it’s done. That’s The Method.” Each one has been a different experience. There’s not a single trick, tip or shortcut I learned writing any one of those [insert original stupid number] that proved to be remotely helpful with the one after.

The novel writing process used to be all about productivity, and charging along, milling out words while heading for the glorious horizon. Plots were like napkins at the drive through. You take them, even though you won’t actually need them unless there’s a seriously messy upset.

Nowadays, writing is a lot more thinking up front. Thinking, and notes. For weeks, even months. Then there’s a frenzied, almost feverish period of writing. That’s how Know No Fear was. I’m wondering if that’s how Pariah will be. The me that wrote Necropolis or Riders of the Dead would in no way whatsoever recognise the me writing Pariah. Or my process. The process is like a live snake. Every time I add another book to the [insert stupid number and add one], it squirms around to find a new way to slip out, a new way to break free.

I don’t blog enough. There! I knew there was a point to this. I don’t blog enough. It ought to be really easy to put out a few hundred words every few days, especially given my mill full of monkeys. I should barely notice a blog. But it doesn’t work like that, and I’ve worked out that it’s because of the process. I think of myself as very disciplined, focused and regimented, at my desk early, working away, but in truth every book, every day is the start of an mysterious adventure. Adding in something else like Write A Short Blog Every Day to the "To Do" list, and it’s just one more thing that, at the end of the day, you can look at and sigh, “Shit, that didn’t happen.”

Nik’s managing to blog every day. It’s incredibly impressive (I’m referring to the frequency of the output, but the blog itself is also impressive and I urge you to check it out). I look at myself and see that the monkeys have written Could Do Better in red in my margin.

So I wrote this blog post to tell you that I’m absolutely not going to be writing a blog every day. Writing a blog saying I’m going to try to write a blog post every day is tantamount to failing before you even start. It’s tempting fate.

But let’s see if I can do it slightly more frequently, shall we?

*Standard irony engaged, Captain.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Magickal Mystery Tour

Not long ago, Nik and I visited the British Museum with the Cawks-Crew (Sarah, Ben and Small Son), and a grand day out was had by all. Entering the first gallery, I approached the nearest display, at random. And this is what I found:

Oh, Horus! Why you Heresy so much?

One of the main reasons I'd brought them there was to see the Best Museum Exhibit In The World, which is the small collection of objects belonging to Doctor John Dee, Elizabeth the First's court magician. Here's the caption card:

How many chances do you get to stare directly into the actual obsidian scrying mirror of the Elizabethan Era's greatest magician? I mean? Come on!

Later, someone spotted this:

For our next magical outing, I propose we go to Hogwarts and cause a crowd disturbance during a Quidditch match. We'll be the unruly hooligan element that spills onto the pitch singing, "Who's the bastard in the hat?" and "You're not spelling any more!"

Sunday, February 12, 2012

*trumpet fanfare*

Feth on a stick, February is already taller than I was expecting. Time to get bloggy with it and cover a few important bits and pieces before, you know... March.

One of those bits and/or pieces is, of course, the competition (hence the trumpets). More on that in a momento.

Let's cover some ground first. There have been some good vibes around here just recently. The latest issue of Marvel's New Mutants (#37), in which we have Magma go on her long-dreaded date with the Devil, has been scooping in rave notices. The artwork of David Lopez is clearly helping (awesome job). Across the street, the latest issue of DC's Resurrection Man (issue #6), in which Mitch is confined to a murderous Arkham Asylum, has also gone down a storm. On top of that, the advance notice on the series I.N.J. Culbard and I are doing for Vertigo, The New Deadwardians, is getting a really good buzz. Witness the LA Times.

Then there's Know No Fear. I am seriously blown away by the good response this has had. If you want to see the sort of things people have been saying, try here or here. The SFX Weekender up in sunny* Prestatyn was a splendid event, and a great place to unofficially launch the book. If you came to see me there, whether you were a long-term 40K fan or a total newbie strangely drawn by the charm and debonair wit displayed by myself and ADB on the Space Opera panel, then may I say it was an unalloyed pleasure to shake you by the hand and deface your book.

We're gearing up for some major Know No Fear promotions, most particularly the awesome "And They Shall Know No Fear..." event being run in Games Workshop stores WORLDWIDE next saturday (that's the 18th of February in everyone's money). I'm very excited and flattered by this, a major in-store gaming experience where you'll be able to participate in Word Bearers versus Ultramarines shooty-death-ass-kick-stop-hitting-yourself-aggh!-aggh! 40K fun in recognition of the epic 30K event of the book (that's the horrendous Battle of Calth, if you didn't know - a treacherous sneak attack on the Ultras by the Wordy Bees during the heresy that a) brought the Ultramarines into the heresy and b) almost wiped them out too). Some come along, bring a friend, choose a side, kick some ass. I will be. I'll be at the Games Workshop Oxford Street Plaza store, London, from noon until two watching the bloodshed and working out which horse to back. Here's the official events listing for it. See you there? Not unless I sneak-attack your orbital shipyards and set fire to your armoured trousers first you won-- I mean, I hope so.

If you've unavoidably got to be somewhere other than Calth on the 18th (Colchis, maybe? Nutwood? Chigley? Somewhere where the action isn't), then never let it be said I don't work hard to provide alternatives. The following Saturday, that's the 25th of February, I will at Forbidden Planet on Shaftsbury Avenue between one and two. Here's the science part. So... two chances! Two different saturdays! I'm here for you!

Let's also all be here for Nik, who's been having a great time of her own. A scary, exciting great time. She's written a novel which was first long-listed and then - ta-mother-fething-da! - SHORTLISTED for the Mslexia Award. This is A Big Deal. If you like and read my stuff, then it's probably worth pointing out that she and I have very different target audiences: her shortlisted novel is very serious, very lit, and very controvertial. But it's also very brilliant, and whether you think you're her target audience or not, you can at least support her by visiting her blog here and maybe wishing her well. The results are announced on Wednesday. Everything is now crossed. Everything. That's why I'm typing in such a high-pitched voice.

Now, the competition. Brilliant responses, and congratulations and many to everyone who entered. Judging was very hard, but I've finally managed to narrow down a winner.

Let me say the standard was very high. I was very much drawn to the simplicity of the many variations on phrases or terms from the book itself, especially "Stay Wealthy!" (if you suggested that, or a variation on that, then you may consider yourself in honorary second place). There were also a lot of very funny or clever or both suggestions that, ultimately, didn't win because they were too long or complex, and thus would have been a slog to write over and over again at a signing. Nevertheless, give yourself a pat on the back for invention, and another for making me laugh.

The winner is just simple. It's deceptively simple. It's short, to the point and exactly what I wanted. It is... "From within". And that means the winner is Rachel Armstrong of Lancaster. Many congratulations, Rachel. I'll package up and send your prize this week.

Everyone else, thanks ever so. I'll be devising another comp with a quirky prize very soon.

Gotta go. Pariah calls.

*actually, six-hour-drive-home-through-the-snow Prestatyn but, hey!?

Monday, January 09, 2012

Year Out, Year In

Happy New Zing!

I hope Santa found you all on the right side of the Naughty/Nice event horizon. Any interesting resolutions out there?

All of us here at the haunted Fortress of Abnett had a good time, thanks for asking, but Nik and I are now plunging headlong back into work. I'll blog about what I'm doing in coming days. But yes, Duke Leto, Matthew et al, it does include Pariah.

Today, I mainly wanted to do a quick update of the competition, which is still running... so hurry and enter! More of that in a second. First, matters arising from the last post:

I've tried Tortoise - not bad at all. The Field's working out for me very nicely, as is Autechre, and Trent Reznor's soundtrack to the new Fincher 'Dragon Tattoo' movie. Thanks for all the suggestions for work soundtracks posted, or mailed to the site. Much apprecated. I'm open to others.

azizibnsaud asked if I could show a shot of the plush Inquisitorial rosette. The answer is - of course. That's mine, and Jim's. The pictures are courtesy of Vivian Lee and Triska Tsang, who got in touch after the last post to tell me their names (and submit them for future redshirt use in books). Triska is also, I'm told by Vivian, too shy to tell me she is a big Sinister Dexter fan too. Thank you again, both.

Shadowheim - Jerusalem is set in Pewsey. Very cool. This is actually the very VERY last week of the London run. It's undoubtedly sold out, but I'm so tempted to get a stand-by and see it again, it was that good.

Two pieces of fun I'd like to share that have popped up in the last couple of weeks:

Some fun fan-art.

And this, which is frankly insane/genius.

I'll be at the SFX Weekender early next month, so maybe see you there.

In the meantime, let's run over that competition again. Some good entries so far, but you've got until the end of the month.

What's the prize, Dan? I've said this once, imaginary narrator, but I'll say it again. The prize is my Games Day 2011 goodie bag.

Dan's 2011 Games Day Goodie Bag, as seen prevously.

When you go to Games Day, you get a goodie bag. Well, the prize is mine. The one I was given this year, with my name badge and parking permit and everything else in it. Including my miniatures, a tee-shirt, my (unsullied) digestive biscuits and polo mints! This isn't just A goodie bag, it's MY goodie bag. I will send it to the competition winner to do with as he or she sees fit.

To make it actually, you know, WORTH something, I'll throw in a signed book, and the following:

It might not look like much, but I found it when I was moving offices. It's the actual, original sketched map (with notes on the reverse) made by me, in my fair hand, of Vervunhive. I used this when I was writing Necropolis and the map in the book was based on it. Little bit of awesome Gaunt's Ghosts history for you to own and keep on owning.

How do I win it? HOW DO I WIN IT!?!?

Calm down, imaginary narrator! You can't even enter the competition, because you're... well... imaginary. But other, real people can enter like this: when I sign books, I like to have a stock phrase or two that works for the book in question, like "The Emperor Protects" or "Remember Tanith" for the Gaunt books, or "Repent, heretic" for Inquisitor novels, or "Blood For The Blood God" for Darkblade. My new book Embedded came out from Angry Robot this year. The winner of the comp will be the person who comes up with the best 'signing tag phrase' for use in Embedded.

You've got until the end of January. My decision will be final. Post your entries here on the comments section, AND email them (with your name and postal address) to the website email AS WELL (and that address is: If I don't have an email with a name and address, I won't award the prize, no matter how good the entry. You can submit as many entries as you like. Atomic thinking caps to power, honorary clones.

Can I really not enter? Shhhh, imaginary narrator.