my books

13Sep

Third to First

Person, that is, not bases or gears. I’m not going to talk about what you should use third or first person voice for – you make your own rules on that. These are just a few thoughts on why I decided to change from third person to first for the new Drakenfeld series, which will be out next Summer.

I spent four books (and the stuff before that) writing in third person. Most of my writerly life was spent doing that, jumping around from character to character, giving a different perspective of things. I made the switch for a few reasons. It was not to create a hard-boiled or noir style – I think those are among the most incorrectly used words to describe a certain post-Hemingway style, but that’s not my issue today. I chose first person because:

1) I wanted a sense of intimacy that I’ve not used before. I’m writing about a character who is sensitive, who would rather preserve a life than remove one without a second thought, and who views the world in a way that would be best expressed through such intimacy with the reader.

2) A challenge. I was well aware that I’d filled previous novels up with characters, perhaps too many, and I wanted to restrict myself utterly to one point of view. If you choose first person, there’s no escaping that.

3) I can express my ideas in a much more subtle way in a first person narrative. Ideas become rather blunt in the third person format, but they can be approached far more gently and deceptively in first person. (Writing’s largely about deception, right?)

4) First person worked better with respect to the locked-room mystery. The character could never be aware of the full orchestration of the murder and, therefore, neither could the reader. If I was writing in third person, there would always be the chance that I could reveal something to the reader that I hadn’t to the character. Where’s the fun in that?

5) Reinvention. I wanted to start afresh – pretty self-expanitory, since it’s a new series and a chance to reach to a new audience.

The thing that surprised me more than anything was how much I preferred to write in first person. I mean, I had to settle into the style – I rewrote the start several times because I wasn’t happy with it (in fact, I scrapped the original first chapters and started afresh twice) – but I found that it was far more rewarding, far more interesting, and far more immersive. Hopefully readers will think the same.

9Aug

Tor UK DRM-Free eBooks now available from torbooks.co.uk

From my overlords at Tor UK:

From today, Tor UK, Pan Macmillan’s science fiction and fantasy imprint, has made its ebooks DRM-free and available to purchase from Torbooks.co.uk and Panmacmillan.com, as well as through other retailers. In a move announced earlier this year, Tor UK has joined sister company Tor Books in New York in removing Digital Rights Management from all its titles so that once you purchase a Tor book, you can download it as many times as you like, on as many ereaders as you like.

“We believe that making our Tor ebooks DRM-free is the best for our readers, allowing you to use legitimately-purchased ebooks in perfectly legal ways, like moving your library from one ereader to another,” says Jeremy Trevathan, Publisher at Pan Macmillan. “We understand that DRM can make your ebooks less easy to read. It also makes building and maintaining your digital library more complicated. For these reasons, we are committed to remaining DRM-free.”

China Miéville called the decision ‘a game changer’

‘The decision by Tor Books to ditch digital rights management signals the beginning of the end of the ebook format wars’ Guardian

‘DRM hasn’t stopped my books from being out there on the dark side of the internet. Meanwhile, the people who do spend money to support me and my writing have been penalised for playing by the rules. The books of mine they have bought have been chained to a single e-reader, which means if that e-reader becomes obsolete or the retailer goes under (or otherwise arbitrarily changes their user agreement), my readers risk losing the works of mine they’ve bought. I don’t like that. So the idea that my readers will ‘buy once, keep anywhere,’ makes me happy’ John Scalzi

About Tor UK

Tor UK is a Pan Macmillan imprint specialising in science fiction, fantasy and horror. We also publish YA crossover fiction and novels based on internationally bestselling computer games franchises. Our team is fully committed to bringing the best imaginative fiction, in its many forms, to the reading community’s bookshelves and ereaders. More news and views from Tor can be found on twitter and torbooks.co.uk

Further information

Chloe Healy, Tor UK Press Office

T: 0044 20 7014 6186

E: c.healy@macmillan.co.uk

@UKTor

2Aug

Hindsight

What would I do differently in my first novel, Nights of Villjamur, if I had the chance to do it again?

One of the issues I had with the original was the use of occasional esoteric language in order to reflect a disconnect with a culture of the far future. That, I suspect, failed – and instead created a disconnect with a few readers instead. So in the edition that comes out in a couple of months, I’ve managed to iron out well over a hundred of these instances, as well as making some other minor alterations – for example, I’ve toned down the swearing, and taken out the c-word. Loads of swearing isn’t big and isn’t clever. There.

Read the rest over at Pornokitsch.

18Jul

Mourning Wasp & Mind Meld

I’ve written a post on the Tor UK blog about China’s challenge, where he would sketch out some fabulous creature, and I would have to write it into The Broken Isles.

I could of course be flexible in these decisions, as there was no small print – I merely took delivery of the wasp. As it happens, there was a way around this challenge. I knew that a monster was arriving, but I didn’t know what. So I could pretty much structure the novel with a lacuna, a vacancy for whatever was coming. Also, I didn’t just want this to be a one-scene monster, I wanted this to play a pretty inclusive role in the book. That, surely, was more in the spirit of the challenge.

Check out the rest of the post to see how I went about fitting in China’s Mourning Wasp – the final sketch is actually printed in The Broken Isles, which I’m rather chuffed about. Also, I was featured on the latest SF Signal Mind Meld, talking about the genre’s desire for monarchies in fantasy fiction.

Even today, we’re under the illusion we have democracy, but it’s much more wishy-washy than true ancient Athenian democracy, where power was genuinely more equally distributed, and more citizens played a role in the functioning of society. Today our monarchs and empires now are largely trade-based hegemonies, imperial campaigns given the spin of delivering peace through drone bombings. We are now subject to political and financial kings and queens…

Take a look at what else I have to say – there’s quite a line up of authors on this one.

16Jul

Time & Writing

Recently I recalled what it was like when I had first sold Nights of Villjamur to Pan Macmillan, way back in January 2008. At the time, I had to wait a year and a half until that book was published. I was 26 years old (nearly 27) when I got that deal, which means I must have been about 25 when I was knee-deep in the snows around Villjamur. A year and a half seemed like it would never pass.

It’s now strange to realise how chunks of my life have been allocated to the books, and I can flick through those pages and know exactly what was going on in my life at the time – who needs a diary? Sentences fire something within my brain that can connect a place or a face or a conversation I had.

Well, another chunk has passed – a significant, series-sized chunk – and I find myself needing to be patient once again. The Broken Isles is out there, and now the very next fantasy book I have published will be the Lucan Drakenfeld series. But that’s not going to be for another year. A whole year. As ever, it feels like such a long time to wait. Now before many of you start heckling, ‘Oh you poor published writer’, first world problems etc, I know I’m very lucky to have books coming out. This is merely one of those curious author states-of-mind to get used to.

Something I’ve mentioned in recent interviews is this need for patience:

Learning the ability to wait calmly for something – be that for getting a new book out there, for feedback on your work, for the chance to prove yourself capable, for even changing direction. So yes, patience, in this job, does wonders for your peace of mind – which in turn helps you focus on writing. The years pass remarkably quickly when you have your head down in a book.

Projects can feel like they last an eternity; but soon enough they’re completed. They become a new book, then your last book, then something you’re moving on from. They could have been a success, a failure, much talked about or hardly talked about. The only constant in any of this is getting those thoughts from your head onto paper each night, and letting time do its thing.

It’s quite comforting knowing that this time around.

8Jul

Review of The Broken Isles

There’s a lovely review of The Broken Isles over at Fantasy Faction:

As always in a Mark Newton book, there are many underlying issues that get the reader thinking as they read along. The differences in culture and racial discrimination inherent in people is prominent in the dealings with the newly arrived peoples fighting alongside the Empire, and the Malum-led rebellion at these newcomers being allowed to settle…

The Broken Isles is the best conclusion to a series I have read in a good while, and it is all down to Mark’s fantastic characters, intriguing story-weaving and deft hand at handling important issues inherent in his work.

Read the rest. It’s always nice when readers spot the key thrust of the novel – in this, bringing two cultures together, the prejudices that invokes in people etc – but I’m also glad that the ending was deemed satisfying. Bringing everything together was probably the hardest bit of the job for me.

5Jul

The Broken Isles – Extract, Interview

The Broken Isles is now out – well, earlier in the week if you’re on Amazon. There are extracts of The Broken Isles and The Book of Transformations over at the Tor UK blog. The direct link to the new extract is here. And here’s the blurb from the back of the book:

War spills into the Boreal Archipelago, as two rival cultures bring their eternal battle into this adjacent realm.

Fresh from a military victory, Commander Brynd Lathraea plans to rebuild the city of Villiren, where he is confronted with a dilemma. There are friendly forces who have no other choice but to live alongside his own people, and their numbers will be required to fight in the looming conflict. The commander turns politician as he seeks to build bridges and embrace mysterious new technologies to further his ambitions. However, many in Villiren are sceptical of aliens coming to their city, tensions run high, and even the dream of a peaceful future brings with it inevitable clashes of beliefs.

Meanwhile, Villjamur has been destroyed. A vast swathe of refugees from the legendary city are now on the run from an immense alien presence in the sky. Villages are being cleared and people are dying en masse. And Inquisitor Fulcrom finds himself at the helm of an operation to aid the refugee exodus to the coast, but it’s a race against time before this threatened genocide is complete. Ancient civilisations line up on the field of battle. Exotic creatures and a possible god walk alongside citizens of the Empire. As the Legends of the Red Sun series draws to a close, there will be one final and immense conflict to decide the fate of multiple cultures forever.

There’s also a brief, but open interview with me over at Civilian Reader:

Writing a coherent fantasy series with a satisfying ending is an immense challenge. I had to cross-reference things I was thinking or doing four years ago, which is not easy. Also, I didn’t want to drag it out – I wanted it to end cleanly. So it was a logical challenge that I’m not used to – the previous books had a greater degree of creative freedom, whereas this was somewhat restrained by what I’d done before. I like to think it was rewarding, too.

2Jul

Giveaway Winners

Because I started to feel guilty picking 15 people to get a copy of The Book of Transformations, I handed over responsibility to my fiancée. The guilt-free selection is as follows:

ChristinaJL_GB
AndyinBrum
Andrew Carter
Laura Graham
Margret Helgadottir
John_lloyd
Joseph A. Gervasi
Gillian Holmes
Ahimsa Kerp
Greg Lincoln
John Chapman
Ga Veltri
Pieohpah5
Angela Bland
Paul Weimer

WordPress/Disqus does keep a log of your emails, so I’ll be in touch later tonight to get your full names and addresses!

25Jun

The Broken Isles & The Book of Transformations

Well, final copies are here – and they look lovely. The artwork is so much stronger and vibrant on the final copies. I really like this new look for the series. The rest of the books will be repackaged for around October time (I think) – you can see what they’ll look like here.

Also, the repackaged edition of Nights of Villjamur will contain around 200 minor changes. Luckily I got the chance to iron out many of the flaws – a few first-time novelist issues, the rest being some of the more exotic words and phrases that put some readers off. All in all, it should prove to be a much smoother read.

I’ve got loads of copies of The Book of Transformations, so I’ll likely do a signed-copy giveaway later in the week. Stay tuned…