Angers, and a reminder …

So Anger is fantabulous. If you’re in France, I couldn’t recommend it more highly. Wonderful medieval section of town, castle, cathedral, great food, great shopping, apparently great wine (but I don’t drink, so I wouldn’t know!). Much excellent research material has been gleaned. Also, photos. There are so going to be some photo essays when I get back …

Also, a reminder for you to enter the giveaway comp for The Falcon Throne. Deadline is September 1st and I’ll be announcing the winners asap after that date. I’ll be in  London and based at a hotel, so it shouldn’t be too long a wait!


So, one of the reasons I wanted to research in France was so I could visit the amazing Guedelon — where they’re building a medieval castle from scratch, using only medieval tools, techniques and materials. The project started in 1998 and they anticipate the castle being finished in 2023. I’d love to come back for that.

It’s an amazing experience and I look forward to putting up some photos when I get home. Mind you, it’s not the most straightforward place to get to! We hired a car in Nevers and drove there. Cue the white knuckles — they drive on the wrong *g* side of the road in France and the sat nav was in French to boot and neither of us is fluent! But we made it. On the way back we detoured via St-Fargeau to see the amazing castle in that small town. The castle has a 1000 year history, but had been let deteriorate. Not all of it is open, but what we did see was amazing in a bizarre kind of way … plus there was something truly ick, but I’m not saying what because it is so going to feature in Tarnished Crown book 2! In due course I will post photos, when it comes time to talk about the book.  Less icky was the truly stupendous tartlette citron we enjoyed after our hours of tramping through the woods and half built castle, and then the chateau.

Tomorrow we sally forth to Angers, where there is another astonishing castle to explore. And then we head back to the UK, and part ways. But I catch up with Glenda Larke again then – so stay tuned for more whacky research adventures!

It’s Book Day in Australia and New Zealand!

Mad as it sounds, the wifi in our Nevers hotel is a million times better than the wifi was in Paris. And Nevers is a small, fairly sleepy township, unlike Paris. So go figure. That means updates have been a bit sparse, so I’m a day late to leap up and down waving my hands in the air to say:

The Falcon Throne is now available for purchase in Australia and New Zealand! It’s very exciting, also terrifying, and I’d like to say thank you in advance to everyone who’s looking to buy a copy in either trade paperback or as an ebook. I just really really hope you enjoy it!

For more information, Australia and New Zealand readers, go here.

Last day in Paris … sniff …

First of all, it’s publication day in Australia/New Zealand! The Falcon Throne is officially let loose into the wild. If you do buy a copy, Oz and Kiwi readers, I hope I haven’t disappointed you!

In other news, Sharon and I had a wonderful morning stroll along the Rue de Rivoli then along the Champs d’Elysee, all the way up to the L’Arc de Triomphe. We may have perpetrated French pastry and bread along the way. Yes, all right, we did. I indulged in a small pistorale avec olives (yum!!! French bread! Yum!! It doesn’t make me unwell the way bread at home does. A good thing then that I don’t live here, or I’d end up looking like a baguette.) I also bought a beignet chocolate, petit, and a tartlet citron. The tartlet I will share with Sharon for dessert after our final dinner in Paris at Chez Claude’s.

Then we strolled back (in the rain, sigh) and enjoyed the wonderful artefacts in the Musee des Artes Decoratifs. Some truly beautiful pieces and many many stairs, which made up for the beignet and the bread.

Now I’m about to download all my photos, then relax until dejeuner. Tomorrow we bid adieu a Paris, and frolic our way to Nevers. Stay tuned!

And in closing, here’s a link to the Oz/NZ edition of The Falcon Throne, now available in trade paperback and ebook.

More information about it here, at this link.




If I had to pick one reason to love Paris, it would have to be the gargoyles. I don’t know why I love them so much. I just do. If it’s not the ones right outside my hotel window (courtesy of St Germain church) then it’s the ones that populate the exterior of Notre Dame. I got some wonderful photos of them today with my handy dandy emergency purchase camera (it’s brilliant, I’ll talk more about it later) and will post a gargoyle photo essay upon my return to Oz.

A couple of days in Paris just isn’t enough. There is so much to see and explore. But I had to choose between all Paris or chateaux in the countryside, so of course the chateaux won. But next time … more Paris!

The writing continues. Oddly enough, the weird sleep cycle helps. If I’m awake at 3 am, what else is there to do???  I’m already having lots of fun with it. Plus it helps take my mind off the fact that The Falcon Throne is released very soon now. Arrgghhhh! My knees, my knees, they are knocking!

Also? Apparently the French govt just fell over. I swear, it wasn’t me.


How wonderful. I’m in Paris! And there are gargoyles almost close enough to touch right outside the hotel window. Around the corner there’s the Louvre. C’est magnifique!

Having a fabulous trip. Winchester and Canterbury were beautiful, with many photos and much inspiration. The writing for Tarnished Crown bk 2 continues, a little slow but good work, I think. Writing on the road can be a challenge! So can having a stupid bloody cold, but I’m fighting it with many remedies. I seem to be winning, just …

After Paris it’s Nevers, and then Angers. All too exciting for words. Can’t post photos while I’m travelling, but be warned — there will be many once I’m home again!

Guest Post: Robert V. S. Redick

Welcome to the Talkative Writer’s guest post with US speculative fiction writer Robert V. S.  Redick.

robertvsredickRobert V.S. Redick  is the author of the epic fantasy series The Chathrand Voyage Quartet. The four books received great critical and popular acclaim, with Locus Magazine calling the Quartet “one of the most distinctive and appealing epic fantasies of the last decade”, and Paul di Filippo “a Kidnapped  or Treasure Island for contemporary times.” He divides his time between Bogor, Indonesia, and Western Massachusetts. He is currently at work on a new fantasy series. For more information you can visit his website.

Now, here is Robert in his own words …


Old clichés die hard. India and Brazil have space programs, but in certain imaginations their names will never conjure more than soccer clubs and snake charmers. National park rangers hold doctorates, but they’re still dismissed as boy scouts who never grew up. Similar stale and shrivelled chestnuts rattle around in our collective psyche when we think of writers. Allow me a moment to grind two of these into meal.

The first is that writers are lucky scammers. They unspool a few yarns, strike it rich, chat up Oprah, sell the film rights and wallow in public adoration to their dying day (a day which presumably begins with a sturgeon omelet, three shots of mescal and sex with a young admirer).

Continue reading

Checking in from Old Blighty

Well, the trip is proving terrific so far. Loncon was wonderful. Such a shame I couldn’t get there until Saturday, but even so … I had a lovely time signing books Saturday morning, then wandering and chatting. Sunday I had panels and a kaffeeklatsch, and had a blast. Monday I got to do more chatting and hugging and catching up and buying of books. Was recommended a new (to me) urban fantasy author, Tom Pollock, so I happily bought The City’s Son and look forward to reading it once I finish Ben Aaronovitch’s Broken Homes. Today was spent mostly in the Victoria and Albert Museum, one of my favourite places in the world. I had some trouble with camera batteries, though, so will have to return there once I’m back in London. So sad. And tomorrow sees me hieing myself to Winchester! Can’t wait. I’ve never been there and it’s fairly dripping with history. Then Canterbury, to investigate properly, and after that France.

If I can, I’ll post some photos of cool stuff while I’m on the road. Otherwise I’ll play catch up once I get home again.

And yes, I absolutely intend to write while I’m here. But tonight is the first chance I’ve had since I landed to stop and take a breath. And that means housekeeping tasks like uploading and labelling the day’s photos, sorting receipts, repacking the suitcase …

Also, I haven’t forgotten the Win a Copy of the Falcon Throne competition, either. There will be some juggling around sorting out winners, since everything’s happening while I’m on the road. But the deadline is drawing near, so if you haven’t entered, please go to the relevant post at the top of the blog. And spread the word to your friends if you think they’d be interested.


Guest Post: Angus Watson

Welcome to the Talkative Writer’s guest post with British speculative fiction writer Angus Watson.

Angus WatsonIn his twenties, Angus Watson’s jobs ranged from forklift truck driver to investment banker. He spent his thirties on various assignments as a freelance writer, including looking for Bigfoot in the USA for the Telegraph, diving on the scuppered German fleet at Scapa Flow for the Financial Times, and swimming with sea lions off the Galapagos Islands for the Times. Now entering his forties, Angus lives in London with his wife Nicola and baby son Charlie. As a fan of both historical fiction and epic fantasy, he came up with the idea of writing a fantasy set in the Iron Age when exploring British hillforts for the Telegraph, and developed the story while walking Britain’s ancient paths for further articles.  Age of Iron, the first book of his Iron Age trilogy, will be published on September 2nd. You can find out more at his website.

AGE OF IRON Final cover

Now here is Angus in his own words …

I’m going through the copy edit of Clash of Iron – book two of the Iron Age trilogy – at the moment. The copy edit is the second last edit before publication, when an expert reads your book and says ‘this bit doesn’t work, that word’s wrong’ and so on, then you get to go through what they’ve said and lament how they just don’t understand you and change it all back…. Not really, my current copy editor, a man named Richard Collins, is excellent (the final edit is the proof edit – basically a spell check).

Anyway, reading this copy edit almost a year after I finished writing the book, I’m surprised to be surprised by the gore. It’s not wall to wall by any means – most of the book is Continue reading

United Kingdom Ebook Promotion for The Falcon Throne

Orbit UK has launched a limited-time offer to purchase the UK ebook edition of  The Falcon Throne at a very good price. If you’re an ebook reader and you live in the UK, you might like to take advantage of it while you can. For readers in other regions, please stay tuned …

Here are the links:

Guest post: Donna Maree Hanson

Welcome to the Talkative Writer’s guest post with Australian speculative fiction writer Donna Maree Hanson.

DMHansonDonna Maree Hanson is a Canberra-based writer of fantasy, science fiction, horror  and, under a pseudonym, paranormal romance.  She has been writing creatively since November 2000. In January 2013, her first longer work,  Rayessa & the Space Pirates, was published with Harlequin’ s digital imprint. This novella length work is a young-adult, science-fiction adventure/romance (space opera). A sequel to Rayessa & the Space Pirates will be out with Escape in early 2015.

Dragon Wine is to be published by Momentum (Pan Macmillan Australia’s Digital Imprint) in two parts, Shatterwing and Skywatcher, in September and October 2014. She can be found at her blog here.

Now here is Donna in her own words:

Ten years in the making

I can’t believe it took ten years.

I have heard it said that it takes ten years to be an overnight success. Well, I’m not a success yet, though I suppose that depends on what the definition of success is. In my case, it is getting a story published that I’ve been working on for ten years, so maybe I am. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been working on other stuff too. Continue reading

Worldcon 2014: London, here I come!

Only a few more days and it’ll be me, leaving on a jet ‘plane, knowing exactly when I’ll be back again (after British Fantasy Con in York) after the mass insanity that is a Worldcon, followed by much riotous living and weeping over the beauty of castles in France. Ah, the sad, sad life of a researching epic historical fantasy novelist!

If you’re coming to Loncon, and you see me wandering my jetlagged way through the halls, please don’t be shy. I’m shy enough for any number of people. No, really, I am. Say hello and tell me something fabulous about your con experience. Likewise at York, though by then I won’t be jetlagged, just worn out by all that French weeping.

Here is my appearance schedule for Loncon:

Saturday, August 16th 10 am- 11 am Capital Suite 7 + 12

Autographing session

Sunday, August 17th 11 am – 12 noon Capital Suite 7 + 12

Authors Accept, Encourage, and Create Fan Works Too

Fanfiction, fan art, and other forms of transformative works can be a sensitive topic with authors understandably having mixed reactions to works based on their creations. In this session four successful authors embrace forms of creative (not-for-profit!) ouput based upon their works. They discuss the benefits and difficulties of having fans creatively engage with their material. Beyond that they openly talk about their own experiences with fan works, whether they have written, still write, or read fanfiction or produce other forms of fan works.

Fellow panellists: Karen Hellekson, Seanan McGuire, Adam Christopher and Patrick Rothfuss.

Sunday, August 17th 12 noon – 1.30 pm Capital Suite 7 + 12

Seeing the Future, Knowing the Past

Fantasy’s use of prophecy – knowable futures – often parallels the way it treats the past, as something both knowable and stable: details of history known from a thousand years back, kingly bloodlines in direct descent for several hundreds of years, etc. In reality, George I of England was 58th in line for the throne and there is a Jacobean claimant still out there somewhere. No one really knows where France originated. History is messy and mutable. Why is fantasy so keen on the known?

Fellow panellists: William B. Hafford, Sarah Ash, Liz Bourke and Kari Sperring

Sunday, August 17th 4pm – 5 pm London Suite 5


A meet, greet and natter with fellow spec fic author Rjurik Davidson and lovely people who also like to meet, greet and natter.

Sunday, August 17th 6 pm – 7 pm Capital Suite 16

The Seriousness Business

Perhaps the two most critically acclaimed SF series of the last decade are Battlestar Galactica and Game of Thrones, and in each case the most common reason for that acclaim is their supposed seriousness: here are SF and fantasy with depth and darkness. Why is this the kind of genre material that the mainstream has embraced? Does the presumed ‘realism’ of this approach hold up to scrutiny? Has seriousness become a cliche? And to what extent do these shows, and their imitators, tell original stories and to what extent do they reinscribe a normative straight white heroism?

Fellow panellists: Juliet McKenna, Saxon Bullock, Emma England and Adrian Tchaikovsky
Sorry, no information as yet about what I’m doing at British Fantasy Con. When I know, you’ll know! But if you can make it, you should try, because the inestimable Kate Elliott will be one of the guests of honour.

A word about pre-ordering The Falcon Throne

Well, The Falcon Throne will be available from Australia/New Zealand’s physical and online book shops at the end of August. For readers in the UK and the US, B-Day is September 9th. Four weeks! A tiddy month!

So I’d like to take a moment to discuss the impact of *Amazon US’s ongoing war with my publisher Hachette as it pertains to me, and my fellow authors who live under its umbrella.

These two large publishing entities are currently locked in a bitter battle over the pricing of ebooks. For lots and lots of useful information and insights on this, I refer you to SF author John Scalzi. As part of their negotiating tactics, Amazon US has made it impossible for readers to pre-order new books by Hachette authors, and effectively ended its shipment of back list titles by extending the delivery estimate far beyond the reasonable. This is having a serious impact on Hachette’s authors’ ability to make a living. Of course, Amazon US doesn’t care about that. It cares nothing for the pain it’s inflicting on people who have no power to impact the negotiations. It doesn’t even care about its own customers, since it’s depriving them of access to authors and books they might well love.

So this is what I’m asking of readers in the US, for me – because I have a new book coming out and how the first book in a new series performs has a significant impact on the future of that series and the author’s ongoing career – and also for every Hachette author who’s being crushed in this fight, and for all the other authors out there who are published by different companies but who will, in their turn, be facing Amazon US’s predatory business practices —

Please look at my Where to Buy links page, and purchase The Falcon Throne from someone on that list. Maybe buy a few more books from them while you’re there.

Because here’s the thing: when I started my own book shop, back in the ’90s, it was at a time when the huge chain stores Borders and Barnes & Noble were moving into the bricks and mortar scene. Within a handful of years they had put some 70% of independent booksellers out of business. Everywhere you looked you found one of the big box stores’ huge shops. And while they had much to recommend them, so did the independents. But the independents got slaughtered and who ended up the biggest loser in that fight? Book lovers. Local communities. Authors. The moral of the tale is that monopolies are bad. Industries that end up in the power of one or two giants do not improve the lives of their customers or the people who supply the goods they sell. Healthy business competition is a good thing, big isn’t always best, and sometimes a small business with real people who love and understand both what they sell and who buys it is the best gift a consumer can receive. It’s definitely the best gift an author can receive, because great hand selling and word of mouth often make a writer’s career.

This isn’t about hating on Amazon US. They’re doing what a big business with dreams of monopoly does. And they have done me great service in the past as I research the books I write. But here’s the thing — they take my money and then they turn around and try to destroy my career. And they expect me not to be angry because hey, it’s just business.

And it is. It’s just business. So for now I’m taking my business elsewhere and I hope you do too. So that everyone can win — not the least those wonderful independent booksellers you’ll find on the links page. Those guys are the backbone of the book business and they deserve our support.

So that’s my pitch. Whatever you decide to do, I’ll respect it. I owe everything to you guys, the readers, and I’m not about to get too far into your faces over this. I just wanted you to know what the stakes are, and show you how you can help me and other authors and maybe yourselves too. Because I’m hoping you’re going to love The Falcon Throne and I don’t like to think that Amazon US is going to get in the way of something you might love.

ETA (Thanks, Adam!) That, to the best of my current knowledge, Amazon Canada isn’t part of the action against Hachette’s authors. If that changes, I’ll let you know!

* Note that Amazon UK is not involved in this dispute. UK customers can pre-order and order my books from them without trouble. Even so, you might like to check out the alternatives once in a while. It never hurts to keep the big guys on their toes.

Spotlight on … Kage Baker

Probably what I miss most about being a bookseller is the chance to introduce readers to writers they don’t know, and might love. This Spotlight on … series is my way of remedying that. And because my passion for all things speculative fiction extends to film and tv too it’s not just books I’ll be recommending. So welcome to the first of my Spotlight on … raves.

Oddly enough, now that I come to think of it I can’t remember exactly when or how or why it was that I came across the late Kage Baker’s science fiction series, The Company. But I am so pleased I did.

Kage Baker was born in 1952 and died in 2010. While she lived she wrote short stories, novellas and novels in the genres of science fiction and fantasy. Her work was nominated for Nebula, World Fantasy, Theodore Sturgeon and Hugo Awards, and in 2009 The Women of Nell Gwynne’s won the Nebula for Best Novella – but for me she remains one of the most criminally under-rated and under-praised writers in speculative fiction.

Continue reading

The Mage books have new covers

My wonderful publishers Orbit are releasing a brand new cover look for my first fantasy series, which I tend to think of as The Mage Quintet.

It’s odd, how things unfold. The first time I sat down to tell the story of Asher and Gar and the mages of Lur, I imagined it as a stand alone novel (I know, I know, hard to believe!) and for myself I titled it Kingmaker, Kingbreaker. That single novel ultimately became the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker duology, comprising The Innocent Mage and The Awakened Mage. After writing the Godspeaker trilogy I returned to the Mage world and wrote what became known as the Fisherman’s Children duology: The Prodigal Mage and The Reluctant Mage. Last of all I went back to the beginning and wrote the prequel story of Barl and Morgan, A Blight of Mages.

I love these books. I love these characters. And I really, really love these new covers. I hope you do too and if you’ve not read the Mage books I hope one of these days you’ll give The Innocent Mage a try!

Here’s a teaser for The Falcon Throne

The Falcon Throne, first book in my new series The Tarnished Crown, will be released in Australia/New Zealand on August 28th, and in the US and UK on September 9th. It’s available for pre-order now via various online and bricks-and-mortar bookshops. Check the Where to Buy links for your best option, no matter where you live.

To get you in the mood, I’d like to share an excerpt from Chapter One …


Brassy-sweet, a single wavering trumpet blast rent the cold air. The destriers reared, ears flattened, nostrils flaring, then charged each other with the ferocity of war.

Huzzah!’ the joust’s excited onlookers shouted, throwing handfuls of barley and rye into the pale blue sky. The dry seeds fell to strike their heads and shoulders and the trampled, snow-burned grass beneath their feet. Blackbirds, bold as pirates, shrieked and squabbled over the feast as children released from the working day’s drudgery shook rattles, clanged handbells, blew whistles and laughed.

Oblivious to all save sweat and fear and the thunder of hooves, the two battling nobles dropped their reins and lowered their blunted lances. A great double crash as both men found their marks. Armour buckled, bodies swayed, clods of turf flew. Their destriers charged on despite each brutal strike.

With a muffled cry, his undamaged lance falling, abandoned, Ennis of Larkwood lurched half out of his saddle, clawed for his dropped reins, lost his balance and fell. For three strides his horse dragged him, both arms and his untrapped leg flailing wildly, helmeted head bouncing on the tussocked dirt. Then the stirrup-leather broke and he was free. Squires burst from the sidelines like startled pheasants, two making for the snorting horse, three rushing to their fallen lord.

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Guest post: Peter M Ball

Welcome to the Talkative Writer’s guest post with Australian speculative fiction writer Peter M Ball.

Peter BallPeter Ball is the manager of the Australian Writer’s Marketplace and co-ordinator of the bi-annual Genre Con writer’s conference. His SF and fantasy short fiction has been published in Strange Horizons, Apex Magazine and the Harper Voyager anthologies Dreaming Again and Year’s Best SF 15. In 2009, he won the Aurealis Award for Best Science Fiction Short Story. His novellas Horn and Bleed are currently available through Twelfth Planet Press, and he’ll be releasing Flotsam, an urban fantasy novella trilogy set on the Gold Coast, through Apocalypse Ink publishing in 2014. Find him online at


And now here is Peter in his own words:

There’s all sorts of advice out there about how to write a book. There is remarkably little that tells you what things will be like once the book is finished and released into the world, waiting for other people to read it. When you hit that point, you’re more-or-less on your own, despite the fact that it’s a strange and bewildering time for an emerging writer. Continue reading

Australia the Amazing

So, my good friend and fellow spec fic author Glenda Larke has led a truly amazing life. The places she’s lived, the things she’s seen and done — unique. Recently she went on the road to explore some of Western Australia’s remote top end, and now shares it with us in photos and commentary on her blog. I’ve never been to this part of Australia and hopefully will rectify the omission before I kick the bucket. In the meantime, I will marvel vicariously, thanks to Glenda. Why don’t you go visit her blog and marvel vicariously along with me? And if you’ve not yet had the pleasure, investigate which one of her books you’d like to read first!

Ready, Steady, Write!

Well, it’s official. The Tarnished Crown book 2 (still to be properly titled) is underway. And here are the photographs to prove it …

Here is the first half of the book (approximately) arranged plot point by plot point on the desk. It’s a huge relief to know exactly where I’m going!

photo1And here is my sitting /standing work desk (I also have a treadmill desk that will come into play down the track) and that would be Chapter One glowing on the computer screen! Take note that I am, of course, being supervised by Editor Barney. More notes and info cards abound …

photo2I’m not ashamed to admit that the learning curve I experienced while writing The Falcon Throne is about the steepest I’ve encountered since my professional writing career began back in 2005.  Continue reading