my books

13Feb

Proof Copies Arrive

After marching around the house preparing to curse the postman for every minute he was late, they arrived. Here, finally, are the proofs (advance reading copies) of Nights of Villjamur. (Thanks, Julie!)

It’s not quite the final product, but it will certainly do for me. This, incidentally, will be sent out to various reviewers, in the vague hope they will praise it immensely, and not rip it to shreds. It also acts very nicely as a paperweight, raised gaming terrain and fuel (in these harsh economic times), should the reviewer find the literary substance somewhat lacking, which I hope they don’t. And it’s also uncorrected, so I’m bound to have littered it with hundreds of brand new grammatical constructs. Marvel at how I push language boundaries unintentionally! It’s received the high-level structural edits, as well as the line edit, so it’s pretty polished, but the copy-edit has only recently taken place – which means that there will be the odd typo. The main thing is that reviewers can get their paws on it before the book hits the shelves in June.

The pictures aren’t great quality since they were rushed on my iPhone whilst trying to contain stupid sounds of glee. What I’m most struck by is how much the artwork looks like a photograph of a fantasy city if you’re casually glancing at it. I’d certainly recommend a visit there…

5Feb

The Investigator

The hardest cynic, the investigator thought, is often fundamentally the most romantic person, because they so often feel let down by the world. He couldn’t detect much romance in himself today, but all the cynicism he could wish for.

He could hear the rain driving against the old stone walls. He liked the sound: it reminded him of the outside world. Lately, he’d spent far too many days in this gloom, had begun to feel a little too disconnected from Villjamur. Everything the city stood for these days was something he found a struggle to perceive.

8Jan

Book Updates

I’ve just heard from Chloe and Julie at Pan Macmillan that book proofs / ARCs of Nights of Villjamur should be ready by the end of the month to go out to reviewers so they can pull it to pieces.

Woohoo!

This book was sold almost a year ago exactly; it seems forever to get to this stage, and I’m impatient at the best of times. I’ve read through it and hacked at it more times than I care to remember. And although there’s still with a copy-edit to go on it (ARCs are uncorrected proofs), it’s a big psychological step forward.

2Jan

Yellowcard—Lights And Sounds / Updates

It’s been a busy few days, what with drinking far too much working on another wave of edits for Nights of Villjamur. I have two editors at Macmillan, which means two worlds of pain lots of notes to think about.

A lot of people have contacted me regarding the book and ARCs, and I’m hacking through my inbox as quickly as possible to answer. And thanks to various folk who have given it a mention on their site recently—it’s very kind.

In the absence of anything worthwhile saying about the world (and believe me there’s lots I’d love to say but pictures can do this so much better), have some music:

[youtube:http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=-FS8nG8SZEI]
9Dec

From The Cutting Room #3

As the sun rose lazily over Villjamur, Investigator Jeryd left his house in the Kaiho district. He walked past Gulya Gata, down alongside the markets near Gata du Oak, Hotel Villjamur, and the inn called the Dryad’s Saddle. There were a few eccentric shops down this way, high end purveyors of drugs and erotica, where you could apparently find “love potions” conducive to controlled rape. Nothing like as described in romantic songs, and why the potions were allowed to be sold at all, he had no idea. That was Villjamur for you – as long as you had enough money you could get whatever you wanted, and to hell with ethics. You could wander these streets and become defined by your fetish.

22Oct

From The Cutting Room #2

Two young men talked in some local hand-language, their sentences needing a gesture and a glance for completion. Kids were sliding on patches of ice in horizontal freefall. A couple walked by, the blonde woman much younger than the man, and he judged them ‘respectable’ by the quality of their clothing. He was tempted to make eye contact with the woman, perhaps tease a reaction out of her. It seemed to matter, stealing a smile from that man’s life.

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Lanterns were being lit by citizens who maybe had expected a brighter day. Glows of orange crept through the dreary morning, defining the shapes of elaborate windows, wide octagons, narrow arches. It had been a winter of bistros with steamed-up windows, of tundra flowers trailing down from hanging baskets, of constant plumes of smoke from chimneys, one where concealed gardens were dying, starved of sunlight, and where the statues adorning on once-flamboyant balconies were now suffocating under lichen.

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19Oct

From The Cutting Room

He looked around at the clutter of junk filling the bedroom. It was all hers, of course. He was one of those who didn’t care to accumulate anything much. As soon as he’d finished with it, it was gone. His rooms had been bare, before she was around. She’d filled the void systematically, buying steadily over the years, nearly all of it antiques. Maybe much of it was junk, but it was her junk.

He had become comfortably used to her filling his otherwise empty life with objects of uncertain purpose, and he’d often wander around the house, simply to uncover items he’d have no recognition of.

It seemed to suggest something deeper about their relationship.

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Nothing had changed here for thirty or forty years, ever since it had been arrogated by the evening bohemians.

All along its lower walls were scribbles etched deep by knife blades over the centuries. Odes to lovers. Threats to all and anyone. Who watches the Night Guard? So-and-so sucks dicks. That sort of thing. Some of the cobbles were splashed with paint, too, and you could smell stale food despite the dampness. At night, lanterns would cast long, feral shadows down here, and if there was no breeze the darkness would become suffocating in such narrow confines.

4Mar

Macmillan Visit

So, yesterday I took the train down to the Big Smoke to see my agent and visit the offices of Macmillan. It was one of those really, really cool moments. I met up with John for a coffee before hand, and had the usual chat about the world with him. Then, we meandered to the offices of Macmillan in North London, not too far from King’s Cross Station. Very plush reception, with fancy LCD screens of book covers, and for the more traditional folk, actual books themselves in smart, sleek display cases.

Then Peter Lavery popped open the door full of handshakes and smiles, and I instantly liked him. Well, I did before really, but you know what I mean. This was the guy who published China Miéville, Peter F. Hamilton, Hal Duncan. Stunningly talented writers. So I was rather in editorial awe of the man. He took us on a brief tour of the building. We passed a chorus of spectacularly charming publishing ladies on their way out to lunch—where did they come from and where did they go? (This made even more bitter-sweet, by the fact I must face Christian and George at Solaris on my return to work.)

Then I met the rights people, the digital chap, the cover design chap—all people who I’d be involved with in one way or another, because it’s a big, big operation there—Rebecca and Steph who flank Peter’s main office and handle their own list of authors, and who used to work with him on the Tor list, and of course, the hub of Tor itself, Peter’s office. Plenty of books on them shelves. Unsurprisingly, a couple went home with me. Alan Campbell’s Scar Night, and a signed Vellum, by Hal Duncan. A moment later, one of the ladies announced she had porn on her desk; an eyebrow raised, I glanced over to investigate, only to find one of those new trendy-sex-romp-style fiction books, and I’m still not sure what I was expecting to see there.

I’m not sure I could ever bore of being referred to as “our new author”. Nope. Felt like a star of sorts.

I signed the contracts, and John, being a super-agent, brought along the invoice! That’s efficiency for you. Then, off for a very long lunch, the way they used to do ’em, with plenty of red wine. John and Peter go way back, so there was much gossip and banter of publishing through the ages, all of which kept me very entertained. Peter has a great sense of humour, and a frightening ability to put back the wine without seeming to change mood at all.

Well, I’m delighted to be part of their list. Certainly a day I’ll remember fondly. I’d better get to writing the next one now…

5Feb

Nights of Villjamur

Reviews page

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I’ve had quite a few questions about this, so in case anyone’s wondering what the book is about, here’s a summary (and to be read in a deep Hollywood voice, please):

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An ice age comes to a chain of islands.

Villjamur: a city of ancient spires and bridges, where banshees declare the dead. You can see dodgy magic from hidden alleyways where cultists use ancient technology for their own spurious gain. Refugees seeking sanctuary from the weather find the gates closed, and the city’s councilors are the last people you should listen too about the matter. Sometimes you might hear a little jazz from certain quarters. A little further out, the dead are seen shambling across the tundra. Into the city comes a young woman to claim the throne of the Jamur Empire after her father commits suicide. Around her, politicians hover. There are garudas. There are hominid species, the rumel, a tough-skin cousin of man that can live for hundreds of years.

Meanwhile an officer in the city inquisition must solve a high-profile and savage murder of a city politician, whilst battling within his own private and work life. A cocky womanizer cheats his way into the Imperial Residence with a hidden agenda. A once-immortal man, preoccupied with the notion of death, sets a chain of events to unsettle the fabric of this world.

A group of elite soldiers are sent to investigate a bizarre genocide on the northern fringe of the Empire. And in this land under a red sun, it seems the bad weather and ice sheets are bringing more than just snow…

Everyone’s stories are linked, and they all have secrets.

Trust no one in Villjamur.

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Teasers one, two and three.

Extract at Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist.

Reviews @: Speculative Horizons, The Wertzone, A Dribble Of Ink, Fantasy Book Critic, SFF World and more.

Oh, and important to credit the artist: Benjamin Carre.

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It’s a a dying earth fantasy, which is an excellent vehicle to play with the concepts of death and decay, something which fascinates me. Maybe even a noir fantasy, deeply in the sense of crime noir and film noir, not merely ‘dark’, which I think can be a misleading use of the word in fiction. Although it is certainly dark. I wanted to bend genres around each other, fantasy, crime, horror, even tools and elements of mainstream fiction. Noir in the sense of the dense characters, the subtleness, the erotic, and the strange. There’s someone who’s paranoid about death; a major character is a gay man in a world that forbids homosexual acts; people who are fuck-ups.

There are references to Gene Wolfe, Jack Vance, M John Harrison to name a few; let me know if you can spot them.