Author: Mark Newton

Born in 1981, live in the UK. I write about strange things.

23Mar

Fantasy in the Court – London, 28th March, 6-9pm

A gathering of fantasy and science fiction authors on Thursday March 28th (that’s my birthday), 6-9pm. Pop along to Goldsboro Books in the wonderful Cecil Court, a book-buying paradise.

More details here, and the full line-up of authors include:

Luke Scull, Seth Patrick, Paul Cornell, Jeff Noon, John Gwynne, Francis Knight, Benedict Jacka, S L Grey, Sarah Pinborough, Stephen Deas, James Barclay, Ben Aaronovich, Mike Carey, Linda Carey. Louise Carey, David Wingrove, Chris Beckett and more.

There will most probably be wine. Don’t be shy.

21Mar

Sugar, Not Fat

That’s pretty much the cause of the obesity epidemic:

‘That does not mean burgers are OK. “The play I’m making is not sugar per se, the play I’m making is insulin,” he says. Foodstuffs that raise insulin levels in the body too high are the problem. He blames insulin for 75% to 80% of all obesity. Insulin is the hormone, he says, which causes energy to be stored in fat cells. Sugar energy is the most egregious of those, but there are three other categories: trans fats (which are on the way out), alcohol (which children do not drink) and dietary amino acids.

These amino acids are found in corn-fed American beef. “In grass-fed beef, like in Argentina, there are no problems,” he said. “And that’s why the Argentinians are doing fine. The Argentinians have a meat-based diet … I love their meat. It is red, it’s not marbled, it’s a little tougher to cut but it’s very tasty. And it’s grass-fed. That’s what cows are supposed to eat – grass.

“We [in the US] feed them corn and the reason is twofold – one, we don’t have enough land and, two, when you feed them corn they fatten up. It usually takes 18 months to get a cow from birth to slaughter. Today it takes six weeks and you get all that marbling in the meat. That’s muscle insulin resistance. That animal has the same disease we do, it’s just that we slaughter them before they get sick.”‘

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that I keep banging on about this subject. Admittedly it’s become a bit of an obsession. I keep telling people to read the work of Gary Taubes and the likes, because I really think sugar and the food industry will become the new smoking/tobacco industry/cancer denial debacle.

There will be dozens of deliberate attempts, some quite subtle, to cause doubt about insulin driving obesity (influenced by sugars), and the fact that a calorie really is not just a calorie. And you can bet that little will be done by governments, given how powerful food companies actually are.

20Mar

Shipbuilding – Time-lapse

I often look at big engineering projects with a childish sense of wonder. Things are being built. Big bits of metal move from one place to another. Suddenly a form takes shape. I imagine there’s immense satisfaction in the work, too, seeing the visual transformation and being able to see the obvious progress each day.

15Mar

Drakenfeld – Cover Design!

Drakenfeld Cover Art

Here we go, the cover design for Drakenfeld, which is published in October. This was created by the talented in-house team at Pan Macmillan. Pretty good, right? Told you there’d be no hooded figure.

Of all my many covers, this is by far the best and most appropriate. It really sums up the book, because nations (or rather nationalism) are core to the series, and the idea with the covers is that each novel features a coloured banner representing the country in which the novel takes place. The one above is the banner of Detrata, with a double-headed falcon, various glaives and swords and a lovely icon. It also evokes the classical world, which was – as regular followers of the blog might have guessed – a major inspiration for the novel. I like to think that the main continent of Vispasia could sit just off the classical maps, as some forgotten corner of the world yet to be discovered by archeologists.

Thumbnail goodness!Anyway, just as important as all that, I think this cover has pretty wide appeal, connecting with fantasy fans, while not putting off crime or historical readers. And it’s just very striking, either as a thumbnail (like here) or simply sitting on a bookshelf. In addition to this cover, there will be internal art as well such as maps. The whole book will be rather lovely to look at. Hopefully you’ll find the words are all in the right order, too.

Here’s the back cover text:

“I am Lucan Drakenfeld, second son of Calludian, Officer of the Sun Chamber and keeper of the peace. Sometimes people get in the way of that ambition…”

The monarchies of the Royal Vispasian Union have been bound together for two hundred years by laws maintained and enforced by the powerful Sun Chamber. As a result, nations have flourished but corruption, deprivation and murder will always find a way to thrive.

Receiving news of his father’s death Sun Chamber Officer Lucan Drakenfeld is recalled home to the ancient city of Tryum and rapidly embroiled in a mystifying case. The King’s sister has been found brutally murdered – her beaten and bloody body discovered in a locked temple. With rumours of dark spirits and political assassination, Drakenfeld has his work cut out for him trying to separate superstition from certainty. His determination to find the killer quickly makes him a target as the underworld gangs of Tryum focus on this new threat to their power.

Embarking on the biggest and most complex investigation of his career, Drakenfeld soon realises the evidence is leading him towards a motive that could ultimately bring darkness to the whole continent. The fate of the nations is in his hands.

Publication date: October, 2013.