Spotlight on … Dave DeBurgh

South African bookseller Dave DeBurgh, long time fan of all things speculative fiction, has recently seen the release of his debut epic fantasy novel. Here’s Dave in his own words, talking about his experiences as a first-time novelist …

DaveDeBurgh meWhen I began writing (and this may surprise you) it wasn’t because I wanted to write.

You see, there were two reasons I began writing – one was because I couldn’t draw or sketch well enough, and the second was because the only way I could truly try to explore the images and stories in my mind was by writing it all down.

Understand, it wasn’t what I was doing which was important or what drove me – it was what I was letting out.

And when I was trying to write what would eventually become “Betrayal’s Shadow” it was that push to release it all which still drove me. I was struggling – probably because I hadn’t made the decision to take what I was trying to do seriously; so I decided that taking a writing course was the next step, and it helped massively. I finished writing the first draft of the novel, which lead to that all important choice to take it seriously. And which also lead to me realising that I wanted to be a writer.

I’ve explained “Betrayal’s Shadow” in a lot of different ways to many different people over the years. One of these explanations was, “It’s an uncomplicated, less-dense combination of Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire, in terms that it has more magic than GRRM’s work, is as brutal in some sections as his, but also tells a sprawling tale more akin to Tolkien’s exploration of his worlds.”

Is that ambitious of me? Certainly, but it’s also what I believe the novel (and the trilogy, when it’s done) will be – well, one of the things.

I’ve also said that the novel is (surprise-surprise) about betrayal, and how betrayal casts shadows on many different people (in this case, characters) and that betrayal can follow down through the years (along with the immediate effects).

The novel is also an exploration of slavery, abuse, the dangers and pitfalls of love, how very easy it is unknowingly abuse trust and usurp the few good aspects of religion… And I didn’t set out to ‘explore’ all these aspects of society and life – not intentionally. Every time I try to make a character conform to the idea in my head, the character balks and does something different. So I let them do what they wanted to do, while keeping the plot and the novel’s climax in my head. In other words, I let them work their way towards it.

The plot itself will probably surprise you. “Betrayal’s Shadow” is not the kind of Epic or Heroic or High Fantasy novel you might expect it to be. It has elements of SF and Horror in it, too, since those are the other two genres I love reading.

One of the most compelling and formative things I’ve ever read is when Steven Erikson wrote that editors had told him that ‘Garden’s of the Moon’ was too ambitious, and sure, I might not be as ambitious yet (a ten-book saga is in me, somewhere, but I’m not yet the kind of writer and storyteller who can pull that off), but some readers have compared my novel to Erikson’s Malazan saga. I’m still smiling because of that.

So, in it’s own way, my novel is ambitious, and perhaps even brave. It was damned fun to write, though it was also damned difficult. It represents the beginning of my career as a storyteller and writer. It’s my leap into space.

I hope you enjoy it enough to catch me. 😉

 

And here’s all of Dave’s contact and book info:

 

Kindle edition Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Betrayals-Shadow-Mahaelian-Chronicle-Book-ebook/dp/B018S2U4Z2/

Kindle edition Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B018S2U4Z2

Limited Edition hardcover releasing on the 13th of January – pre-order link: http://www.ticketyboopress.co.uk/dave-de-burghs-signed-hardback-now-available/

My official website: http://davedeburgh.weebly.com/

My Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/davedeburghwriter/

My Twitter profile: D-B de Burgh (@DaveSASFFAuthor) | Twitter

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a really lovely Q&A I did!

The truly tedious thing about being unwell a lot is how fast so many things slip through the cracks. This being one of them! The lovely people at WritingForums.com asked me if I’d participate in an author Q&A, and of course I said yes because there’s not much I love more than banging on about books and writing. They were great questions, I answered them as best I could, and I hope if you’re an aspiring writer you might find them helpful.

You can read the interview here.

A different kind of cop show

The other thing that happens when you fall over with a disgusting stomach/gut virus – apart from the obvious – is that you’re left stranded liked a beached whale, unable to do anything meaningful except watch some dvds. You can try reading, but for some reason that doesn’t always work out. Anyhow. A while ago, while ordering something else online, I saw another show highlighted. I’d never heard of it, but it sounded interesting so I ordered a copy. And while I was laid low with the disgusting stomach/gut virus, I watched it.

19-2 is a Canadian cop show. It was originally made in French, and then it got an English makeover. It’s set in Montreal, part of French-speaking Canada, which explains why. For those of us who watch shows filmed in Vancouver (mostly) there are some familiar faces in the cast, and as guest actors. Most notable of these is Adrian Holmes, who was Detective Lance’s partner for a while in Arrow.  The first season is out now on dvd, and the second season is about to be released. It’s been picked up for a third.

This is a fascinating series, because it has a very unAmerican cop show sensibility. Style-wise it’s approached like a documentary. There’s an edge, a rawness, to the camera work that’s really interesting, but it never gets in the way of the storytelling. (I really hated the stupid idea in Southland where the soundtrack bleeped out the cops swearing. Way to interrupt the narrative, guys. Way to be pretentious!) It’s a very personal, often in-your-face kind of narrative. It’s also pretty bleak. The story weaves its way in and out of the cops’ professional and personal lives, but it never feels like soap opera. In that sense, it’s pretty much the diametric opposite of another recent Canadian cop show, Rookie Blue.

I’m thinking that if you’re a fan of darker fare, stuff like The Wire, you might well enjoy 19-2. And even if bleak isn’t really your thing, I’d say give it a go anyway. The writing and acting are top notch – and it’s always an excellent adventure, exploring different takes on a familiar – and some might say – overdone genre. In fact, I think that writers should make a point of watching a bunch of different shows in the same genre, and noting how each narrative handles the demands of that genre. What works, what doesn’t, and how those lessons can be applied to our own work.

I bought 19-2 from Amazon UK. When you buy from overseas you need a multi zone dvd player, remember!

Here are some great books to read

I’m often asked which books and/or authors are my favourites, or have influenced my writing in some way. There is always a standout answer: the late Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles – a 6 book historical series that is pretty much the benchmark of excellence for the genre. Nobody, but nobody, is in Dunnett’s league. If you love great fiction, especially historical fiction, and you haven’t read this series? You’re missing out an amazing experience. The first book in the series is The Game of Kings. I urge you to get a copy and be ensnared in brilliance.

But Dunnett also wrote a mystery series, known as the Dolly series. It was called that because the main character, Johnson, owns a yacht called Dolly, and he travels the world in it painting portraits – for which he’s famous. However, there is more to Johnson than a paintbrush, which is where the mystery element comes in.

What’s remarkable about the Dolly series is that each book is told from a first person narrator perspective, and each time the narrator is a different woman whose life intersects with Johnson’s – with not always happy results. It means that we learn about Johnson second-hand, and each character reveals something new and different about him. Reading the series is like putting together a Johnson jigsaw puzzle, and it’s truly fascinating. It’s also a masterclass in writing. Reading Dunnett is like that – you learn so much about writing from reading her extraordinary novels. Each narrator is a distinctly different person, with a unique voice, which is reflected in every element of the narrative.

If you like the mystery genre, and enjoy strongly character-driven storytelling, I can’t recommend the Dolly books highly enough. You can find them online at reasonable 2nd hand prices. I’ve just replaced a few of my own that were falling apart and it hasn’t broken the bank.

Start with Dolly and the Bird of Paradise. That’s the first book, and it sets the series up really well.

Some musings on the way things are going

As I think most of you know by now, 2015 hasn’t been a great year for me. In a nutshell, after I came home from the UK (this time last year!!!!) I had a few little health hiccups that road-blocked my game plan for the next book. Then, just as I was revving up again, in early December  I had a tumble on my mother’s very steep driveway.

Read on …

Continue reading

Karen’s Ask Me Anything on Reddit …

Tomorrow is the Reddit AMA which I’m doing in conjunction with the Orbit fantasy writing workshop. If you’re as unfamiliar with Reddit as I was before now, you can relax. It’s actually pretty easy.

If you’re already a Reddit member, sign in to the Fantasy bulletin board – the BB. If you’re not, you can sign up with a new membership first then go to the Fantasy BB. On the right hand side of the Fantasy BB is a list of upcoming AMAs. Click on my name, and you’ll get into my AMA where you can post a question for me to answer, or just read what other people have to say.

Here is the schedule:

9pm Sydney time (12midday London time/7am New York time/4am California time) – I log on and begin answering questions until midnight Sydney time (3pm London time/10am New York Time/7am California time.)

I sleep until 30th July 7am Sydney time (9pm London time/4pm New York Time/1pm California time) and then to log in to finish answering questions.

Here is the link to the Reddit Fantasy BB.

Researching people

Boiled down to basics, there are two kinds of research a writer does before and even during a novel. The first is getting the world building right. Even a contemporary thriller requires some research. The late great Dick Francis meticulously researched for his novels, because even though he’d lived all the horse racing stuff his books were set in disparate and fascinating worlds: merchant banking, luxury rail travel, the wine-selling business, the stock market. Writers of private eye or police procedural novels need to know the ins and outs of the law and criminal investigations. And of course those of us who revel in speculative fiction, be it space travel or how to mount a siege on a walled town, spend months up to our eyeballs in history books and documentaries.

Continue reading

Karen at Sydney Supanova

So, I’m appearing as one of the guests at the upcoming Supanova events in Sydney and Perth. Very exciting, I will probably turn into a squeeing fangirl. *g*

For a full rundown of all the amazing people attending as guests, and all the venue facts, check out this link. Right now I only have firm info for my Sydney schedule, so here you go.

I will be doing a couple of panels: a Star Wars panel at 3.30 on Saturday and a fantasy literature panel on Sunday at 11 am. I’ll also be available in the signing area Friday afternoon and most of the weekend. Probably the best times to catch me there will be from 11 am to 3 pm Saturday and from 1 pm Sunday.

Hope to see you there!

 

Doubt and the Writer

I was intending to do this as one of the writing podcasts but I’m fighting against another return of the Vile Lurgy, so to spare you my coughs and splutters I’ll do it as a regular blog post.

Recently I received a lovely email from reader Alyssa, who asked me what advice I’d give to aspiring writers about the demon of self-doubt and the need for external validation of the work. It’s a great question, and I wanted to answer it in a more public forum because I’m pretty sure Alyssa’s not the only writer who sometimes struggles with these issues.

Continue reading

The Falcon Throne in paperback!

I’m thrilled to announce that The Falcon Throne, book 1 in The Tarnished Crown series, has been released in paperback in the US and UK. It’s a big book, a big series, and I’m having the time of my life writing it. If you weren’t able to read it in hardcover, I hope you can in this new paperback edition – and that you enjoy it!

(If you’re an Australian fan, I’m afraid there’s a little more waiting to do. July 1st is the local release date!)

Falcon Throne_B Uk final-1250x822

Guest Post: Lucy Hounsom

Starborn cover   It’s now my great pleasure to introduce Lucy Hounsom and her debut fantasy novel, Starborn. This is the first in a new trilogy.

LucyHounsomLucy works for Waterstones Booksellers in London, and has a BA in English & Creative Writing from Royal Holloway. She went on to complete an MA in Creative Writing under Andrew Motion in 2010. She lives in Devon.
Here’s Lucy in her own words …
“Both the characters and the central idea that drives Starborn have been around for a long time. I wrote the first chapter over ten years ago as a naïve seventeen year old and then set the story aside when I went to university. But it bubbled away beneath the surface, never leaving me alone, until I knew that I had to write it even if it never got published. That’s the thing about stories – they beg to be told, to be shared and this one is a culmination of everything I’ve ever loved about fantasy. Books by authors like Tolkien, Robin Hobb, Patricia McKillip Ursula Le Guin and countless others made being an awkward teenager bearable, and at the same time convinced me that I wanted to write too. The idea that people could enjoy my stories in the same way is part of why I write. To create a world so immersive that it’s able to sweep you away for a time – that’s my goal. And fantasy is a wonderful cloth to weave; its threads are rich and steeped in history. It’s able to express archetypes in a way quite unlike any other literary genre. To me, writing and fantasy are seamlessly interwoven and in all honesty I’m not sure I could write anything else. So what do I love about this genre? The worldbuilding for starters – I love exploring worlds so like and unlike our own. In those worlds, the impossible becomes the possible, lands are populated with strange peoples and creatures, and there’s an overriding sense of the epic – the struggle that so defines our race. I love the characters we meet in fantasy, the heroes, the antiheroes, the villains, the rogues, the innocents. When we read a story, we automatically become the protagonist; we suffer through their trials, we’re with them when they fall in love, we look out of their eyes at the unfolding of events. When it comes to character, traditionally fantasy has drawn rather distinct lines between ‘good’ and ‘evil’; the hero is often Campbellian, the villain his recognisable opposite. While movements like grimdark have turned that tradition on its head, I set out with a different aim, which was to tell a story that explored heroism as a concept instead of a given trait. I started with the phrase, ‘one man’s heroism is another man’s tyranny’ and thought about the subjectivity that statement embodies. It suggests heroism is defined by context and individual perspective, instead of objective characteristics. The crux of Starborn – as Kyndra, my protagonist, comes to discover – hinges on the actions of one man, whose crowning achievement makes him a saviour in some eyes and a monster in others. It’s up to the reader to decide which he is, or even whether it matters to the histories. This discussion provides the background context for Kyndra herself. I wanted to move away from the established rendering of the Garion[1]-type hero as a hard-working, honest sort, instead drawing Kyndra as she would more likely be, living in a small community: sheltered, idealistic, stubborn. We are shaped by our childhood and our childhood environment and our earliest experiences colour everything we do. Kyndra has an unbelievably long journey ahead of her, which changes her more than she could ever imagine, so I wanted her to retain the roots of her thinking, to see the world – rightly or wrongly – through the eyes of someone who has grown up in an isolated community at peace. The very concept of war is alien to her, as are the attitudes that foster it, and she struggles to understand the divisions responsible for fragmenting a society. When you want to explore a particular subject, I think it’s important to have a recognisable base as reference, so there’s a lot you’ll find familiar about Starborn. It’s a rite of passage novel where the protagonist is living an ordinary life in a small corner of the world, but is inevitably swept up in wider events. Kyndra learns what it means to take control of those events instead of letting them steer her course and she comes face to face with the idea of destiny and what it might require of her. Of course Starborn is also full of magic, mysterious citadels, buried truths and unresolved conflicts – all the elements that make epic fantasy such fun to read and write. I love this genre for its possibilities, its powerful nostalgia for bygone eras. I love its various characters and settings, from dragons to sorcerers to epic battles. Fantasy allows us to ask poignant questions about society while sweeping us off on an epic journey with people in whom we can see ourselves. I’ve just finished the first draft of Book Two, where Kyndra and her companions encounter a host of new challenges. I always envisioned the series as a trilogy, so that the characters I’ve come to love have room to grow and time in which to tell their stories, and I can’t wait to share them with you.” [1] The hero of The (excellent ) Belgariad by David Eddings
Starborn is available now in-store and online. If you enjoy fantasy adventure with a strong female central character, some mystery and some romance, give it a read!

The Falcon Throne paperback: Giveaway!

Well, the paperback edition of The Falcon Throne, book 1 in The Tarnished Crown series, is due to hit bookshelves in the real world and in cyberspace very soon. So I’d like to celebrate by offering 3 copies as giveaway prizes. All you need to do is send me an email via the Contact button on this website, and you’ll go into the draw. Good luck!

EDIT TO ADD: THE COMP IS NOW CLOSED, I’M SORRY. WINNERS WILL BE ANNOUNCED SHORTLY. THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO WANTED TO WIN A COPY.

The Books for All initiative

The US government is launching a new program called Books for All. Its purpose is to make free ebooks and ebook readers available to kids from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. It’s a great idea and I hope it really takes off.

My parent publisher, Hachette, has included The Innocent Mage in the first round of books being made available. This makes me so pleased, I can’t tell you! If you’re on Twitter (I’m not, I have enough trouble keeping up with a blog!) it would be great if you could pass along the news.

The David Gemmell fantasy fiction awards

So, it seems The Falcon Throne has been nominated for a David Gemmell award. This award was started in honour of the late and truly wonderful David Gemmell, beloved creator of Druss the Legend. He was possibly the most humble, the most gracious, the most hilarious man I’ve ever met. I had the unforgettable pleasure of hosting him for a convention, back when I had my bookshop, and I’ve never forgotten him. I was dying of bronchitis that weekend, and it didn’t matter. He made me laugh so hard in his speech I nearly died anyway! And watching him with the fans, he was a master class in how to be wonderful.

Anyhow, I have no idea how I got onto the nominees’ list, but I’m beyond chuffed and pretty excited to see such a wonderful parade of great fantasy fiction. It speaks so well of the depth and breadth and health of our great genre. Whether you vote or not, that’s not my business. But I’d urge you to check out the list and grab a few books that you haven’t read …

You’ll find it here.

Winners at Swancon

It’s my utter delight and pleasure to share the news that my friend and fellow fantasy author Glenda Larke has won both the Ditmar and the Tin Duck awards at this year’s national science fiction convention, held in Perth over the Easter weekend. Congrats also to Donna Hanson, whose efforts on behalf of our genre in Australia are tireless; she was awarded the Bertram Chandler award. And finally, a big woot to Trudi Canavan, who was the Ditmar co-winner with Glenda.

Some photos and stuff here, at Glenda’s blog.

Hugo time

Well, it’s that time of the year again: the Hugo short-listed works have been announced.

For those who aren’t familiar with them, the Hugos are awards for fiction, non-fiction and visual storytelling in the spec fic genre,  voted on by members and supporting members of each year’s World Science Fiction convention. Those same members and supporting members are responsible for nominating their favourite work of the year, and it’s from those nominations that the various short-lists are compiled. Because of the supporting membership option, it means the Hugos can be truly representative of what works fandom at large – world-wide – wishes to honour: while comparatively few fans can make the trip to the actual convention, every single fan of science fiction and fantasy can be involved in the Hugo voting process.

Participation in the process is entirely voluntary. All you need to do is pay the supporting member fee and your voice will be heard, your personal preferences taken into account. This means that the Hugos are, potentially, the most egalitarian award on offer in the genre. Bottom line? There is no one ‘right’ way to be a fan, no one ‘right’ kind of book or film or tv show to vote for. This is about individual fans voting for the work that speaks to them most profoundly.

The last couple of years there has been a lot of nastiness swirling around the Hugos. It’s nasty this year too. I find that very disappointing. I am deeply offended by the notion that it’s not the work that matters, but the politics of the author who wrote it. Or their race, or skin colour, or sexuality, or gender. For my money, none of those criteria is relevant to the awards process. Do I want a wide variety of people represented on the nominee ballots? Speaking as a woman, you’d better believe it. But do I want good work ignored – or worse, actively discriminated against – because of various – and sometimes competing – political and social agendas? Absolutely I do not. And I really don’t want to see great writers punished because some people in fandom don’t like the people who support their work. That’s not inclusivity. That’s bullying. That’s a disgrace. As fans we should be better than that.

If you love science fiction and fantasy and you’d like to see the kind of stories you love receive the recognition of a major award like a Hugo, then do get involved in the nominating and voting process. Complaining that you don’t like anything that wins year to year, without getting involved, is pretty silly … and pointless. As someone once said, be the change you want to see in the world!

And in the meantime … my huge congratulations to this year’s nominees. I wish each and every one of you the very best of luck.

Thank you, Terry.

Terry Pratchett was a genius. I’m just glad as all get-out that we didn’t wait until today, the day of his death, to figure that out or let him know posthumously. I’m glad that we, the reading public, got to tell him every day for the last few decades. And I hope that of all the things bloody Alzheimers took from him, it never took that. Because he deserved every accolade heaped upon him — especially the ones he wasn’t awarded because he was ‘too popular’ or ‘too commercial’ or too ‘whatever’ for the folk who take it upon themselves to hand out the little gold statues.

I’ve been asked by Booktopia to do a guest post about Terry Pratchett and his work, so I won’t pre-empt myself on that. What I will say is that I was incredibly, unbelievably privileged to experience Terry’s brilliance in a way few others ever enjoyed. That’s partly what I’ll be talking about in the guest post, which I’ll link to in due course. It was pure serendipity that I had that experience and it’s one I’ll treasure forever.

There is nowhere else in fiction remotely like the Discworld. It is a creation of extraordinary intellect and philosophy and humanity. Just as there was only one William Shakespeare, there will only ever be one Terry Pratchett. Now please, please, please, can somebody re-release all his work in hardcover editions with the original Josh Kirby covers? A few of mine are falling apart.

Thanks, Terry. You made my world a better place.

 

 

Thoughts on writing, from me and Sarah Hoyt

Writing is a tough gig. It’s full of doubt, uncertainty and rejection. It takes courage, persistence and a willingness to be humble when you’re told your work needs work. The biggest barrier to success is when a writer clings to the sad belief that they’re some kind of special snowflake being denied their destiny of greatness by [insert convenient excuse here].

Guess what? Nobody is owed a publishing contract. Not for any reason, be it gender or age or ethnicity or eye colour or any external measure. And more often than not, work is rejected because it isn’t good enough, not because there’s some vast conspiracy to keep the author down because of [insert convenient excuse here].

Yes, sometimes other factors come into play. Various kinds of discrimination.  But that’s life. Some decisions suck. Some people suck. Things aren’t always fair. Problem is, get too cosy with that worldview and you will absolutely end up standing in your own way – especially since discrimination isn’t as pervasive and monolithic as some people believe.

Anyhow, that’s what I think. And here’s what Sarah Hoyt thinks, a writer who works in both traditional and non-traditional publishing modes. I think she talks a lot of sense.

Bottom line? The job of a writer is to tell the very best story in the very best style of which he or she is capable. That involves much self-criticism and the seeking of honest feedback on the work and the willingness to rewrite and rewrite until you’ve done your job. After that, you send the work out into the world and cross your fingers that someone thinks it’s a good fit for their publishing house. Or you publish it yourself, and hope the reading public thinks it’s a good fit for their enjoyment.

Beyond that? Nothing. Readers don’t owe writers a damn thing. And getting angry because readers don’t like the ‘right kind of books’ i.e. ‘the books I am writing’, and scolding them, and sneering at the books and writers that they do enjoy? That’s juvenile and counterproductive. It’s arrogant and elitist and frankly pathetic. Writers write. We don’t get to decide what readers want to read. But if we’re lucky, we find ourselves standing on that patch of ground where what we’re writing is what they want to read.

Talking Grimdark …

The term ‘grimdark’ was coined a while ago to label darker, grittier kinds of fantasy fiction. Some of the authors known for this kind of storytelling are Joe Abercrombie, Richard Morgan, George RR Martin, Mark Lawrence — and me, apparently! Well, not the Mage books so much, but I’d agree that the Godspeaker trilogy isn’t what you’d call a carefree romp in a sunlit meadow.

Anyhow, there are some discussions being had about this particular sub-genre and its current state. Mark Lawrence asked me if I’d like to weigh in, and I did, along with a host of thoughtful writers.

You can read the conversation here. My thanks to Mark for asking me to join in!

Let’s hear it for Glenda Larke!

One of the most creative and innovative writers in the fantasy genre today is Australian author Glenda Larke. For those of you who want to see a story not based on medieval Europe, Glenda is the writer for you. And even if you do love the medieval backdrop (as I do, obviously!) she is still the writer for you. Glenda has led probably the most astonishing and unique life I ever heard of, and all of that amazing experience finds its way into her books.

The Daggers’s Path, the second book in her Forsaken Lands trilogy, is out on sale now. Below is the lovely cover. Here is a link to her blogsite where she talks some more about the story. Stay tuned for a guest blog post, as soon as she’s got a moment to herself!

Daggers Path

 

I count myself privileged to be Glenda’s friend, but that’s not why I’m celebrating the release of her new book. It’s a great story – and great stories should always be celebrated!

 

Spotlight on … Grey’s Anatomy

It’s hard to believe now that Shonda Rhimes, recent recipient of the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award at The Hollywood Reporter’s  Women in Entertainment Breakfast*, started off in showbiz as humbly and nerve-wrackingly as anyone else. Her debut drama and breakout smash hit, Grey’s Anatomy, was only given a mid-season introductory episode order of 9. Yup. ABC had so little faith in the project that it only ordered 9 episodes.

Grey’s Anatomy is currently airing its 11th season. And since its debut Rhimes has gone on to create the hits Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder, which started this year. However, my heart belongs to Grey’s.

Continue reading

Spotlight on … Terry Pratchett

Of all my favourite fantasy series, I’m pretty sure I’ve re-read Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series the most times. In fact, I’ve re-read my favourite Discworld novels so many times that some of the books are starting to fall apart. The bugger of that is not all of them are available to repurchase as hardcovers – but I keep my eyes peeled and I grab a backup copy whenever I can. Because one of these days one of his books will fall apart – and I’ll be heartbroken.

Want to know why I hold Terry Pratchett and his work in such high esteem? Then read on …

Continue reading

Should we believe everything we read?

So here’s a question for you. How likely is it, do you think, that either Anthony Hopkins or Mads Mikkelson (both of whom have portrayed serial killer and cannibal Hannibal Lecter) actually approve of – or even yearn to – murder someone and eat their liver with some fava beans and a glass of chianti?

If you’re inclined to answer ‘Not terribly’, then we’re on the same page.

Continue reading

Spotlight on … JD Robb

The best thing about JD Robb’s In Death series is that she neatly combines two of my favourite genres: romantic suspense and science fiction. Robb, better known as international romance phenomenon Nora Roberts, introduced her classic protagonist Eve Dallas  to readers way back in 1995. The fiftieth novel in the series will release next year … and if that’s not an achievement, I don’t know what is!

Continue reading

Interesting book trade article

So, real books are making a comeback, apparently.  Yay! Nothing against ebooks and the folks who swear by them, but I gotta say I’m a boring poky stick-in-the-mud traditionalist. I like me a real book that I can hold in my real hands. Also interesting in the article is the realisation that Hey! Every bookshop is different because every location and demographic is different! No, really? she said sarcastically. Sorry, guys. I adore Waterstones, I really do, they have been brilliantly supportive of me, but as a former bookseller and a current author, sometimes I do roll my eyes so hard they nearly roll out of my head.

I can’t believe the professionals need reminding about stuff like this. Bookshops are retail, but not all retail is the same. When was the last time a customer rushed into a supermarket demanding the newest Colgate toothpaste release????? Um, I think that would be never. Unless of course the customer is a dentist, in which case there is no hope for them. *g*

Of course managers should have the power to do their own ordering, based completely on what their regular customer base wants to buy. By all means make sure there’s other stuff to broaden the reading base, but core customers? They make the world go round. Also of course this means you must make sure to hire really good store managers, who love books and love readers and get their jollies interacting with them and talking books and reading  books which they then recommend and who encourage their staff to be the same way.

So hooray for Waterstones, who are getting back to good, old-fashioned basics. And let’s hear it for real books and the people who love them!

Podcast #8: Taking the plunge

Welcome to another podcast about writing! This time I talk about things to consider before sitting down to start the gruelling process of writing your book – with some particular commentary about the dreaded first draft.

As always, if you have any questions please feel free to drop me a line and I’ll do my best to answer them.

 

New faces!

And it seems a veritable slew of new people have paid me the enormous compliment of signing up to follow my blog. Thank you, guys, and welcome. I hope you enjoy my various mutterings about this, that, and the other thing.

To that end, I’d really like to hear from readers what kind of posts you’re most interested in, what kind of things you’d find interesting for me to write about. I mean, I can natter on ’til the cows come home about all kinds of things – but that doesn’t mean you want to read it!

So please, drop me a line in the comments section and let me know how I can make this the kind of blog you think is worth following!