news & reviews


Publication & Events

Firstly, I have apparently forgotten that yesterday was the official publication date of The Book of Transformations. Waterstone’s are doing a trade paperback edition and the hardcover is available from Amazon (who tend to have the largest market share of hardcovers). The paperback of City of Ruin is also out there. All three books are in the Waterstone’s 3 for 2 promotion at the moment, too. Copies are winging their way to reviewers (if you’ve not got one, give me a shout).

So in celebration of publication day, I got sent this:

Because Tor UK are lovely. Review to follow.

Also, I’ll be attending the Alt.Fiction festival on Sunday 26th June. It’s a weekend festival, this year, but I’ll only be there for the one day. You can view the whole schedule here. It’s quite a line-up. Hope to see you there.


Review, Links, Complaints, Stuff

First up, there’s a review of City of Ruin (because it’s out in June in the US in trade paperback, the UK in mass market paperback), over at Strange Horizons. I link to it because it’s a very honest review, not because it’s full of praise (which it is not); and also because it contains a level of thoroughness that is splendid to receive from time to time.

City of Ruin is not a complete success. There are missteps, and some of them manage to damage the overall experience. There are, also, moments of brilliance. Though they share much of their framework, City of Ruin is a far bolder novel than Nights of Villjamur, and both its highs and the lows are magnified compared to that earlier work. If, in his upcoming The Book of Transformations, Newton can solve the problems displayed here—some disjointed elements and an often heavy hand—it’s not hard to imagine him penning the masterpiece he’s been aiming for before the conclusion of the Legends of the Red Sun quartet.

In other news, I’ve added my name to a list of 85 authors who have complained to the BBC:

The BBC has been attacked for its “sneering coverage” of genre fiction during a World Book Night prgramme. The 85 signatories in a letter to Mark Thompson, the director general of the BBC, range from Gold Dagger-nominated crime authors such as SJ Bolton, writers of children’s fiction such as Debi Gliori, as well as many fantasy, science fiction and horror authors – from Iain Banks to Michael Moorcock.

And entirely unrelated, since it’s about non-fiction, this blog, Treasure Islands, is an excellent example of how the author has made me want to buy their book by their blogging. Sure the book itself sounds fascinating, but it is superb how the author, Nicholas Shaxson, has stood on his soapbox and shouted into the aether so assiduously – and in a focussed, web 2.0 manner.


London Book Fair Panel – 13th April

Just a reminder that on Wednesday I’ll be at the London Book Fair on the following panel:

The Partnership between Author and Editor

The relationship between author and editor is not a straightforward one. Just how does an author work with both the in-house editor/publisher and freelance editor? This seminar looks at how all three work together to their mutual advantage and the panel is comprised of two trios: one trio in general/popular medicine and the other in fiction. The panel members are two authors (Mark Newton and Bridget McCall), two in-house editors (Julie Crisp and Dick Warner) and two freelance editors (Lawrence Osborn and Richenda Milton-Daws).

The seminar will be chaired by Christina Thomas, a member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP).

Date and Time: 13 Apr 2011
Location: Wellington Room, Earls Court 1

I’ve always wanted to appear “Live at Earl’s Court, London” though in my imagination it was always with a Gibson Les Paul (40 seconds in – that’s what I’m talking about, people – there goes the evening: watching Led Zep clips on Youtube). Anyway, yes, I will be there with Julie Crisp, my editor at Pan Macmillan. She’s not keen on public speaking, so do come along to heckle us both.


Interviews & Review

Apparently I’m good for a soundbite. Well, these two interviews over with the lovely people at Pornokitsch are chock-full of them.

Part One:

I think I caught a kind of last wave of hype that the blogosphere could generate itself – now, of course, it’s back to the publishers hyping novels (which is what they’re meant to do). I was lucky because I caught that wave, but I was impressed – personally – at the number of review venues that liked it. That felt good. To get coverage in the Times and Guardian meant the most (that’s the kind of shit you can show your parents). Though I felt there was a bit of a backlash to that hype which I’ll probably never shake off – people approach it expecting loads, and it might not deliver for a lot of them. The worst thing, I think, is when big review venues compare you to Big Authors; because fans of Big Authors come out of the woodwork to denounce you.

Part two:

When it came to City of Ruin, I had my foot in the door and could do what I wanted. So I wrote what I wanted to read, not what anyone else might want to read. I just let go. If I wanted to mention porno golems, I was going to write about them. If I wanted a confrontational gay or a domestic abuse scene or a serial killer, I was going to do that. If I wanted half-vampyr gang lords, a huge monster made from the body-parts of the recently killed, or a giant spider, or whatever, I was going to do that. Plus I thought there were areas I wanted to improve – my depiction of females for one: I wanted them to – you know – not be walking, talking vaginas.

(That last phrase wasn’t my own; I borrowed it from the Book Smugglers.)

Finally, Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review gives City of Ruin a very solid 9.5 out of 10:

The end of the world is still on the horizon but it’s a lot closer for the people of Villiren (than it is for those in Villjamur) and it’s interesting to see the scene that Newton sets as a result. Whereas Villjamur enjoys a contemplative view of oblivion, Villiren is right in the middle of it and fuel is added to this fire by the treatment of the local population by an Empire seeking the best for itself at the expense of the outlying regions. When hardship is this immediate and in your face, all you can do is look out for yourself and make the best of this. Newton captures this air of ‘aggressive resignation’ in a city where if you’re not looking to expand your power then you’re partying until it all comes crashing down. I wouldn’t want to live in Villiren but I couldn’t help but be drawn into it by the manic energy that’s in everything going on.


Cake, Reading & Interviews

This one’s a local gig: I’m going to be at the Walk Cafe Book Club, in Nottingham, on Thursday February 24th, at 6.30pm. I’ll be reading something (don’t know what yet) and converting some outsiders to the genre, and generally trying not to salivate at the cake on display.

If you’re in the area, why not stop by? If you don’t like me, you can at least enjoy the cake.

I’ve done a couple of interviews recently. The first is with Stefan at Civilian Reader, where I talk about writing, whisky and other stuff:

What was your first foray into writing, and what do you think of it now, looking back?

Oh, man, it was a pile of crap, a kind of ultra-new-weird desert-based thriller. But, you know, you need to get the crap writing out of the way before you go get to the slightly better stuff. I’m not ashamed of it – it was a first effort, and you need to practice and build up your confidence.

Stefan also reviewed and very much enjoyed City of Ruin:

City of Ruin is intelligent, thoughtful, and elegantly brutal. Newton doesn’t shy away from difficult or uncomfortable subjects. On the strength of this novel, I would say that The Book of Transformations (publishing in June 2011) has shot way up on my list of anticipated, must-read novels of 2011

And there’s another interview over at Ranting Dragon, which I thought I mentioned a while back, but obviously did not:

You and fellow author and Twitter aficionado, Sam Sykes of Tome of the Undergates, do battle. What is your choice of arena and weapon?

For the arena: a 1930s cocktail bar on the 43rd floor of a hotel, for sheer style points. My weapon of choice would be an attractive young lady—Sam’s got a weak spot for the ladies, so while he’s busy picking his jaw up off the floor, a couple of quick jabs should finish him off easily. BOOM!


SFX Weekender Schedule

Here is the schedule for the Weekender, and I’ll be on this panel:

Friday 4.00pm When Fans Go Bad
James Moran, Paul Cornell, Mark Charan Newton, Kevin J Anderson discover the pros and cons of having an active and vocal fanbase.

On Saturday 1.15pm, I’ll be signing in the Forbidden Planet area, Team Tor authors Gary Gibson, Peter F. Hamilton, Paul Cornell, China Miéville and Adrian Tchaikovsky.

The rest of the time, I will probably be in the bar area nattering away. Do come and say hello, as it’s always nice to meet new people at these things. I might even be checking Twitter (if I can get reception – last time was pretty ropey) if you wanted to arrange to meet. I’m much less snarky in real life.


The Weekender

It’s coming up to that time of year again. Yes, it’s (possibly) my favourite event in the con circuit: the SFX Weekender, which will be held in Camber Sands. I will be there, of course. Why? Well, my write-up from last year might explain:

When first thing in the morning you see China Miéville cooking eggs for Peter Hamilton, you know it’s not going to be normal weekend. I realise that sentence implies something earthy happened the night before, and given China’s remarkable ability to deploy the opening riff of ‘Let’s Get It On’ several times over the weekend, who could blame me for such an interpretation.

In addition to the above, myself, Adrian Tchaikovsky and Julie, Chloe and Amy from Pan Macmillan, were all sharing a bucolic, charming cottage, which was a (hefty) stone’s throw from the beach. There were wooden floorboards, comfy sofas, a huge kitchen, and everything had that retro-chic touch that makes homeware addicts froth.

I feel I should point out that the Gollancz authors were herded into chalets at Pontins (note the review titles “Hell on earth” and “never ever again”). Clearly, the gods did not favour them, and some would blame Simon Spanton for renting such dire accommodation. (If a Gollancz author is reading this, I’d email him with more ostentatious demands in future.)

Let’s be clear: this event rocks. It’s different. It’s not poncy, there’s no pretence; this event possesses the solid spirit of the cons of yesteryear. Good debates, good camaraderie, fans mixing with authors, and dodgy hotdogs. And I’ll be cottaging with the rest of the Tor UK crew. Make sure you get your ticket for a weekend of fun on the south coast. Here’s the guest list, so you can see what you’re missing.

There will be whisky.


Nights of Villjamur on the ALA RUSA 2011 Reading List

Hat-tip to Jeff VanderMeer for pointing this out (he was on the list too). So I’m on the American Library Associations’s RUSA Reading List for 2011, which I am reliably informed (by several people very quickly on Twitter) that it’s actually a pretty big deal, and for that reason it gets a blog post. Here’s the list of fantasy novels in full.

Winner: “Under Heaven” by Guy Gavriel Kay

And the shortlist was:

“Finch” by Jeff VanderMeer, Underland Press
“The Half-Made World” by Felix Gilman, Tor Books
“The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms” by N.K. Jemisin, Orbit
“Nights of Villjamur” by Mark Charan Newton, Spectra

Congrats to everyone on the list!


Service Interruptions

Something weird happened between the blog host and WordPress a couple of days ago, which meant I couldn’t post anything (Wednesday’s was done via my iPhone). So, now that’s over…

Have a review of City of Ruin at Pornokitsch:

As Mr Newton says himself, “if anyone was going to read just one book of mine, I’d like it to be this one”. As much as I liked The Reef, I wholeheartedly agree. City of Ruin combines Mr Newton’s fertile imagination with a confident, triumphant narrative style. It is an excellent work of contemporary fantasy that rightfully elevates him from a newly-discovered talent to a mature and successful one.

And have one of Nights of Villjamur at Kamvision:

This is fantasy alive with the complexity of human nature, even when portrayed by non-humans. It is a uniquely relevant opening to a fantasy series which shows great potential. One that I think represents a considerable advance in demonstrating the ability of fantasy to speak eloquently of our everyday reality.


Dates For The Diary

Two UK dates for the diary. Firstly, I’ll be at Derby this Saturday (6th November 1:00pm – 4:00pm) at QUAD for the Other Worlds event (presented by Tor UK and Alt.Fiction). Tickets £8.00 (£6.00 Concessions)

Other Worlds offers a mixture of panel discussions, giveaways and signings and is an ideal event for both readers and writers of science-fiction and fantasy. Authors appearing include the UK’s best-selling SF author PETER F HAMILTON, Shadows of the Apt writer ADRIAN TCHAIKOVSKY, rising fantasy star MARK CHARAN NEWTON and author of the Recursion trilogy TONY BALLANTYNE.

I’ll also be doing a fantasy writing workshop beforehand from 11.00-12.00. More details on that here.

And in March next year I’ll be attending a new one-day event in Leeds called ConJour, also in association with Tor UK. Authors so far confirmed are Mike Carey, Kate Griffin, Justina Robson, and Adrian Tchaikovsky.

We believe ConJour it is the first Science Fiction and Fantasy event to be based in Leeds. It is a one day event taking place on Saturday March 12th 2011 and will run from approximately 9am to 5.30pm. The event is taking place at the Leeds Park Plaza Hotel and is being sponsored by Tor UK.

A number of fantastic authors will be attending ConJour and taking parts in panels, talks, Q and A sessions and signing sessions throughout the day. A schedule of the day will be posted on this website and emailed to all attendees closer to date. A copy will also be given to all attendees in the programme.

More details here.