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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Winners of the Scott Sigler/Infected Giveaway! Free Reading! And a Press Release...

Congratulations to Charline Stanley (Kentucky), Karrie Millheim (Florida), Barbara Leclerc (Massachusetts), James Baker (Maryland), Serge Belozerov (Massachusetts), Sheri Mcwilliams (Michigan), Betty Mordecai (Mississippi), Jennifer Cecil (Florida), Mary Primorac (Texas), and John Rasmussen (Tennessee) who were all randomly selected to win a copy of Scott Sigler’s hardcover debut “Infected” (Reviewed HERE) thanks to Crown Publishing!!!

In news, I’m pretty slammed at the moment and have to keep this brief, so here are some links to excerpts, sample chapters and books that can be found online:

~Remember when
Elizabeth Bear posted the Prologue to her upcoming book “Ink and Steel”, Volume Three of The Promethean Age? Well you can now read Act I, Scene I from the novel HERE.
Daniel Abraham’s 2008 Hugo Award-nominated short story “The Cambist and Lord Iron: A Fairy Tale of Economics”—found in the “Logorrhea” anthology edited by John Klima—has been made available online by Bantam Spectra for free HERE. My thanks to Grasping For the Wind for the heads up!
~Moving on,
Andy Remic, author of “War Machine” (Reviewed HERE) has recently revamped his website HERE which includes an excerpt from his next Combat K novel “Biohell” to be released in November (US).
FantasyBookSpot, there's an exclusive excerpt HERE from R.A. Salvatore’s new book “The Ancient”.
~Lastly, starting today, April 29th (9:00am), and running through Tuesday, May 13th (midnight),
Del Rey is offering “Betrayal”, the first book in the Star Wars: Legacy of the Force sereis, as a free downloadable PDF, audio book, and eBook HERE. I would post the entire press release that I received, but since Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist has already done so, you can read that HERE :) Also, Realms of Speculative Fiction has more links to FREE READING HERE.

Finally, here’s an interesting press release that I received and was also mentioned on
The Book Swede:

AUSTIN, TX – Technohorror author and horror industry entertainment journalist
Gabrielle S. Faust announces the release of the first novel in her apocalyptic vampire series, Eternal Vigilance, Book One: From Deep Within the Earth, by publisher Immanion Press (Stafford, UK), owned and operated by legendary fantasy author Storm Constantine.

Forward by Bram Stoker and International Horror Guild Award–winning horror writer, fiction editor of the online horror publication
Chiaroscuro, and a nationally syndicated commentator on genre film for the Public Radio Satellite System show, Movie Magazine International, Michael Marano.

Eternal Vigilance, described as “if Anne Rice went cyberpunk”, is the futuristic tale of the vampire Tynan Llywelyn. After a century of Sleep, Tynan has awoken to find the world he once knew utterly obliterated by a brutal war of epic proportions. In a new apocalyptic society, bitterly divided by magic and technology, the Tyst Empire has found that a hundred years of global domination is not enough to sate their thirst for power. They have discovered the secret of the vampire race and have designed a plan to seize their own sinister form of immortality with the help of an ancient vampiric god. The Phuree, a rebel uprising that has been engaged in a bloody war with the Tyst since the beginning of the new regime, have obtained the knowledge of Lord Cardone's plans and have allied themselves with the remaining Immortal clan. The powerful Phuree oracle, Nahalo, has had a vision that in Tynan alone lays the power to defeat the vampiric god and the dictatorship. Cast into the midst of a global war between magic and technology, mortals and vampires, in a new world he is still struggling to define, Tynan must make the harrowing decision to save the world he so bitterly detests or stand and watch as humanity is destroyed by a primordial evil beyond all imagining...

What the literary world is saying:

Eternal Vigilance is the main artery leading to the heart of all vampire stories. Not since Interview With a Vampire has there been a greater tale of the undead. My mouth became dry reading it. My pulse quickened. This book makes you thirsty for bloodlust.
Gabrielle Faust is the queen of vampire fiction.” –Eric Enck, Author of The Reckoning & Ghost of a Chance

“Like if Anne Rice had gone cyberpunk.
Gabrielle Faust is an author of immense talent, and Eternal Vigilance keeps the reader enthralled from the first page to the last.” –Sire Cédric, Author of Angemort & Dreamworld

Gabrielle Faust’s new book, Eternal Vigilance, is Haiku pumped to the max! You can smell the roses, but first, you feel the prick of the thorns, and you drink the slow, seeping blood. Lock the door, turn off the telephone, pour a glass of fine Cabernet and immerse yourself into Faust’s world…a 'world that fears silence, a culture that never breathes'. In her world, vampires are romantic, street smart, and, yes, dangerously sexy. Trust me, you will enjoy the trip." –Gary Kent, Director of L.A. Bad & Producer of The House Seven Corpses, Author of Shadows & Light: Journeys With Outlaws in Revolutionary Hollywood

Faust is currently at work on the second novel in the Eternal Vigilance series, which she hopes to have turned over to
Immanion Press by the end of the summer, 2008. She also continues to pursue her career as an author, illustrator and freelance journalist/entertainment critic for such publications as Fear Zone, Doorways Magazine, Darkened Horizons and Fatally Yours Reviews.

Eternal Vigilance, Book One: From Deep Within the Earth was officially released on April 21st.
Gabrielle S. Faust kicked off her 2008 book tour on Friday, April 25th as a selected author to participate in the Nebula Awards author signings. She is currently scheduling appearances and signings at conventions and bookstores nationwide to occur throughout the year.

Personally, I’m a big fan of
Storm Constantine’s work, I love anything that has to do with vampires, and I just can’t get enough cyberpunk. In short, Eternal Vigilance just sounds like my kind of book :)
Monday, April 28, 2008

"Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Official Cory Doctorow Website
Official Little Brother Myspace
Order “Little Brother
Listen To An Excerpt
Read Reviews of “Little Brother” via SFFWorld + Strange Horizons

When I was a high school senior back in 1996, the world was a much different place. Security wasn’t something we ever thought about. I mean cameras, metal detectors, x-ray machines, security guards? Heck, our school couldn’t even afford air conditioning let alone any kind of security measures! And don’t get me started on how technologically deficient we were. Computers? The first time I touched a computer was when I was seventeen and it wasn’t to browse the Internet. Instead, I got the dull pleasure of learning DOS. Adding insult to injury, we actually had to use typewriters any time we needed to turn in a report or put together a resume. Cell phones? Never heard of them. Video games? I was still pounding away on my Gameboy and Super NES. MP3s? I thought a portable CD player was the most amazing device I had ever seen. Yep, the times have definitely changed and not necessarily for the better if Cory Doctorow’s new book “Little Brother” is any indication…

Taking place in the very near future, “Little Brother” follows the account of Marcus Yallow, an ordinary, tech-savvy, seventeen-year-old high school senior whose hobbies include Harajuku Fun Madness—a Japanese Alternate Reality Game (ARG)—LARPing (Live Action Role Playing), computer programming, building gizmos from everyday materials—a spy-cam detector using a toilet paper roll, a pinhole camera out of Legos, etc—and hacking. Of this last, Marcus takes particular pleasure in defeating his school’s security systems which includes gait-recognition cameras, Radio Frequency ID tags—arphids—and issued laptops that log your keystrokes, watches for suspicious keywords, and keeps track of the websites you visit. All in good fun :) Then, in the wake of the ‘worst terrorist attack ever committed on American soil’—the bombing of San Francisco’s Bay Bridge—everything changes. Marcus becomes identified as a potential terrorist threat by the Department of Homeland Security, his privacy violated; a second PATRIOT Act is passed; a new proactive enforcement program instituted where anyone can be detained for ‘nonstandard’ activity; his school becomes an outlet for propaganda rather than teaching; and to top it off, Marcus’ best friend is missing, either dead or a prisoner of the DHS.

So what would any ordinary, tech-savvy, seventeen-year-old high school senior do in this situation? He fights back using the tools that are available to him, namely his brains, his hacking abilities, and the righteousness of youth. What follows is a riveting battle for freedom involving everything from Xboxes, cryptography, rave parties, and camera phones to blogs, memes, Player vs. Player video games, and LARPing. In short, Cory Doctorow’sLittle Brother" is one of the best releases of the year and here’s why:

One, “Little Brother” is just incredibly timely. Even though the book is set in a future where gas is seven bucks a gallon and Microsoft is on their fourth videogame system—the Xbox Universal—almost everything utilized in “Little Brother” is stuff that‘s actually in use today. Gait-recognition cameras, The Onion Router, arphids, the Great Firewall of China, Fast Passes/FasTraks, ARGs, face-recognition robots, tunneling . . . its all real. Look it up on Wikipedia if you don’t believe me :) And then of course there’s the War on Terror, the loss of privacy, the definition of civil rights, national security, voting, and the corruption of American press. These are all issues happening right now. You just can’t get any timelier than that…

Secondly, “Little Brother” is smart. Part of it’s the subject matter, but really Cory just knows what he’s talking about. He’s done the research, he’s knowledgeable in many of the related areas—according to his bio Cory is an activist, a teacher, a public speaker and a technology expert—and the book is just intelligently written including a clever plot, believable characters & dialogue, and a lot of fascinating info-dumping. In fact, one of my favorite aspects about the book was the stuff it teaches. Not familiar with ARGS, LARPing, the history of ciphers, Bayesian math, Yippies, tunneling, et cetera? Don’t worry, by the time you finish reading “Little Brother” you will be :)

Then there’s the character of Marcus Yallow. Written in the first-person, Cory does an amazing job of realistically capturing the voice and personality of a seventeen-year-old hacker. From the slang he uses to his choice of similes, metaphors and references—Astro Boy, Castle Wolfenstein, Sailor Moon, Alan Turing, Jon Postel and Jack Kerouac’s On The Road—his knowledge of all things computer & cyberspace-related, and the emotional rollercoaster that he goes through including feelings of indignation, betrayal, guilt and horniness; it’s like a teenager actually wrote “Little Brother” instead of the thirty-six year old Cory Doctorow ;)

Fourthly, the book doesn’t pull any punches. So even though “Little Brother” is a Young Adult novel—Cory’s first by the way—the author keeps things real. For instance, Marcus doesn’t just talk like a seventeen-year-old, he acts like one including ditching class, drinking, and having sex. Even more authentic is how Marcus eventually turns to his parents and other adults for help—after all, there’s only so much a group of teenagers can do—and how he was held accountable in the end for his actions since he does break a few laws ;) The thing that really stood out for me though was the DHS’ treatment of innocent people—involving psychological & physical torture—which is frankly a little bit frightening considering how believable it all is :(

Lastly, “Little Brother” is just a lot of fun to read and that’s the book’s most important quality. Because no matter how relevant, smart, or plausible a novel may be, it just wouldn’t be as memorable or provocative if it wasn’t also entertaining. That’s what makes “Little Brother” special. It’s timely, smart, relatable, realistic, thought-provoking and fun, and that’s why I strongly believe that readers will be talking about Cory Doctorow’s novel for a very long time. I know I will be…
Friday, April 25, 2008

"Death's Head: Maximum Offense" by David Gunn

Official David Gunn Myspace
Order “Death’s Head: Maximum Offense
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s
REVIEW of “Death’s Head
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s INTERVIEW with David Gunn

I find myself inspired by the straightforward approach of Lieutenant Sven Tveskoeg, so let me blunt here. David Gunn’s Death’s Head novels—military science fiction cut from the same cloth as Neal Asher, Richard K. Morgan, and Andy Remic—are not about sympathetic characters, in-depth worldbuilding, or thought-provoking ideals. There’s also hardly any info-dumping involved, the plot is pretty simple, and the author doesn’t like to use big words :) So what does that leave us with? How about a character so badass he makes the Terminator look like C-3PO, a ton of in-your-face action that is unforgiving in its brutality, and humor so sardonic you could cut steel with it. In short, the Death’s Head novels are just awesome, testosterone-fueled fun :D Unfortunately, it wasn’t until I read “Maximum Offense”—the second volume in the Death’s Head sequence—that I came to fully appreciate just how much fun I could actually have with the books…

If we flashback to my review of David’s debut
HERE, you’ll notice that while I really enjoyed reading “Death’s Head”, I admittedly had some issues with the book including the lack of info-dumping and shallow supporting characters. Surprisingly I didn’t have the same problems with “Maximum Offense” even though the book is almost exactly the same stylistically. For instance, background information is once again hard to come by. In fact, if you haven’t read “Death’s Head” you might find yourself a little lost since the plot deals with concepts that the author already assumes you’re familiar with including Enlightened, the Uplift virus, Silver Fists, the United Free, the Octovian Empire, ferox, Sven’s kyp, and so on.

Regarding the characters, Sven remains the center of attention as the novel’s first-person narrator, but just as important this time around are his Death’s Head auxiliaries who were introduced at the end of the first book. Dubbed ‘the Aux’, Sergeant Neen, Corporal Franc, Sniper Rachel, Shil and Haze may not get the same kind of treatment as Sven, but David does a much better job with the supporting players in “Maximum Offense”, which also extends to Colonel Vijay and General Indigo Jaxx. This includes defining distinctive character traits and establishing relationships. Best of all though is the interaction between Sven and the Aux which results in some really entertaining moments :)

Speaking of Sven, few protagonists are more compelling. It’s not just the fact that he’s a complete badass—I’m talking seven feet tall, insanely strong, deceptively quick, lethally proficient with both weapons and hand-to-hand combat, with an incredible threshold for pain and unnatural healing abilities. Not to mention being armed with a fully intelligent gun whose vocabulary can be deadlier than its ammunition, a knife that Sven sheathes inside his body, a prosthetic arm, and a symbiont with telepathic properties. I’m also talking about the succinct way Sven narrates the novel—imagine concise sentences, short chapters, and simplistic descriptions—how he doesn’t take shit from anyone even if it means killing one of his troops because they can’t follow an order, his lovely personality, and how he doesn’t like to think too hard ;) Plus, we finally get to learn a bit more about where Sven originated from which just adds to his growing infamy…

As far as the story, Sven and his Aux have been personally handpicked by U/Free ambassador Paper Osamu for a secret mission that takes the group, led by the untested Colonel Vijay, to Hekati, a ringworld that once inhabited millions but is now home to just a few prospectors, some Silver Fists, mercenaries, and a missing U/Free who is the object of their mission. Or so they’re told… Like “Death’s Head”, “Maximum Offense” likes to surprise the reader and almost everyone has a secret including Colonel Vijay, Paper Osamu, General Jaxx, OctoV, the Enlightened, U/Free, even the ringworld Hekati. Additionally, David likes to put Sven in impossible situations and let all hell break loose such as the Ilseville battle at the end of “Death’s Head” where only two and half thousand soldiers, out of a hundred thousand, survived. If you thought that was rough though, it’s nothing compared to what Sven and the Aux have to go through at Hekati. Just expect things to get violent, crazy and so damn exciting you’ll need oxygen afterwards :)

In the end, “Maximum Offense” is basically more of the same in-your-face military SF that was on display in the author’s debut, but where I enjoyed “Death’s Head” I absolutely loved the new book. What’s even better is that there will be at least one more Death’s Head novel and if the first two are any indication, then the book is going to kick some ass

NOTE: The UK edition of “Death’s Head: Maximum Offense” is set for publication June 16, 2008 (
Transworld) and like David’s debut, I prefer the UK cover (see inset) to the stateside version, although they are both impressive :)
Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"Fallen" by Tim Lebbon w/Bonus Q&A

Read Fantasy Book Critic’s Review of the “Dusk/Dawn Duology” + “After the War

In “Dusk” and “Dawn”, Tim Lebbon’s first foray into the fantasy genre, the award-winning author (White, Face, Hellboy: Unnatural Selection) introduced readers to Noreela, a dark and twisted world populated by exotic peoples, places and creatures. Since then, Noreela has been the backdrop for a number of Tim’s stories including the Subterranean Press release “After the War” (Reviewed HERE) and now the standalone novel “Fallen”…

Set 4000 years before the “Dusk/Dawn” duology, “Fallen” takes readers back to a different Noreela, one that is still dangerous and familiar due to the inclusion of tumblers, skull ravens, the always mysterious Cantrass Angels, Ventgorian wine, fodder and other familiarities, but this version of the world is not nearly as despairing and still possesses a sense of hope, of potential. In this time period, much of Noreela remains uncharted and is a playground for the Voyagers whose vocation is to discover the undiscovered. For the Voyagers their greatest challenge, their Mt. Everest if you will, is the Great Divide in the south, a vertical cliff that rises miles into the sky and extends from east to west seemingly forever. According to legend, the Great Divide marks the end of the world and no one who has Voyaged there has ever returned. For Voyagers Ramus Rheel and Nomi Hyden—friends as well as competitors—all that changes when they meet a fellow Voyager who has not only survived the Great Divide, but has brought back evidence of an unknown civilization…and a Sleeping God

Starting out Ramus, Nomi, and a group of Serians—hired warriors from Mancoseria who attain adulthood by killing a seethe-gator—are Voyaging to the Great Divide together, but because of the complex relationship existing between Nomi & Ramus involving hidden feelings and deep betrayals, the party is quickly fractured into two groups who are now competing against each other to be the first to reach the top of the cliff. From here, each Voyager faces their own set of perils and complications as they journey to the Great Divide, but the real danger is what they discover on top of the cliff and the decisions they end up making that impacts the future of Noreela

Like the author’s previous Noreela stories, “Fallen” is all about the setting and Tim takes full advantage of the plot to let his imagination roam wild. So as the Voyagers travel from Long Marrakash, across the Pavissa Steppes, into the uncharted lands before the Great Divide, up the cliff, and into the world above the clouds, readers are introduced to all sorts of interesting wildlife and phenomena like squirm-storms that rain down lizards & insects, march wisps, Rokarian traps, gray people who feed on unhappy memories, a place where certain berries & herbs will make you high, and a forgotten race. There’s much more of course, but the joy of reading one of Tim Lebbon’s Noreela tales is discovering what new surprises the author has conjured up :)

Character-wise, “Fallen” features a really small cast—basically the two narrators Ramus & Nomi, the six Serians, and a few minor players—which is helpful because even though the novel is self-contained, Tim still has time to fully develop his characters. For instance, each Mancoserian possesses his or her own individual personality while the relationship that the two Voyagers have going on is explored in all of its strange complexity including conflicting feelings of friendship, envy, disappointment, rivalry, and even love, not to mention the lying, treachery, and a fatal disease that allows Ramus to experience Nomi’s nightmares. In short, my only complaint about the characters was one scene between the Voyagers—when the group splits into two—that felt like watching a bad soap opera…

Of the plot, “Fallen” is essentially a quest novel that takes readers from Point A to Point B. Despite this conventional setup though, the journey itself is fascinating because of Noreela, the story is excellently paced, and the ending is just mind-blowing. Specifically, when “Fallen” shifts to the top of the Great Divide, Tim really turns up the heat on his characters and forces them down a dark & bloody path toward events that are shocking, tragic, and haunting. In other words, don’t expect any happy endings… And, as a bonus to those who are familiar with Noreela, the book’s finale marks the beginning of the Kang Kang mountain range and The Blurring which is a really nice touch :)

If you’ve read my reviews of the “
Dusk/Dawn Duology” and the “After the War” novellas, then you know I’m a huge fan of Tim Lebbon’s Noreela universe. Not surprisingly, I had pretty high expectations for “Fallen” and apart from a couple of minor gripes—namely the novel’s simplistic story and certain fantasy conventions—my expectations were met quite satisfactorily. To sum up, “Fallen” is just another outstanding addition to the Noreela mythos, and every time I visit this terrifying yet fascinating world, the harder it becomes to tear myself away…

BONUS FEATURE — Tim Lebbon Author Q&A:

Q: In “Fallen” (April 29, 2008) you return to the world of Noreela that was first established in the “Dusk/Dawn” duology and has been the setting for a couple of short stories and two novellas that were found in “After the War” released by
Subterranean Press earlier this year. You also have another book called “The Island” that is coming out next year that is set in the same milieu. In short, what's so special about Noreela?

Tim: It’s a whole new world, and it’s mine. I have so enjoyed writing novels and stories set in Noreela, a world where I make many of the rules. Some writers say writing fantasy is extremely difficult because of the detailed world building you have to undertake, but I’ve actually found it quite liberating, and I always love sitting down to visit Noreela once again. So that’s part of it – the fact that I can create many of my own rules, places, civilizations, religions and mysterious tattooed women. But part of it is also the sense of exploration and discovery I feel every time I start a new Noreela book. The stuff you read in “Fallen” was all new to me when I wrote it as well, and that’s really quite thrilling. These stories are set nowhere I recognize, and whereas if I did that with my contemporary, Earth-bound fiction, it would be an obvious fault in the book . . . with fantasy, it’s a distinct advantage.

I also like to think that Noreela is rich in history. Everything I write there plants seed for other stories. The more I write about it, the more I start to think of it as a whole, distinct world . . . and how may novels have there been set on Earth?

Q: Good point :) “Fallen” actually comes with a nice preview from “The Island”. What more can you tell us about the book?

Tim:The Island” is a book I’m very pleased with. It was also perhaps the most difficult Noreela novel to write. For a start it’s almost entirely in one coastal village (apart from a series of flashbacks), whereas the first three novels have all spanned Noreela in their settings. That in itself was an enjoyable test – I really had to try and bring this strange fishing village to life, at a time when it’s challenged by its greatest threat – but I also had to make sure the action of the story flowed well within the confines of that place. Actually there is one extended scene that takes place on the island of the title . . . but I can’t reveal anything about that. Oh, no, I can’t.

The novel opens with the village of Pavmouth Breaks being hit by a tidal wave, and when the survivors emerge at dawn, there’s a new island several miles out to sea. And between them and the island . . . boats.

Q: Do you have any other projects lined up for the Noreela setting? Personally I would love to see the Bajuman starring in his own series :) Also, for readers new to Tim Lebbon, should they start with a certain Noreela book or can they start anywhere?

Tim: I’ll definitely be writing more stories set in Noreela, whether they be novellas or novels. Actually I have several ideas for future novels, all of them stand-alone stories staggered at various points through Noreela’s history. “Dusk” and “Dawn” is essentially one story split into two books, but I’ve enjoyed writing “Fallen” and “The Island” much more . . . the landscape is recognizable, some of the places, people and religions will be identifiable from other Noreela stories . . . but the tales themselves are contained. I like that. I think of Noreela as a big wide world, and the stories I’m wanting to tell are now more and more confined in space and time. I think that’s a sign that I’m becoming more comfortable with the world. You mentioned the Bajuman, Korrin, and he’s a fascinating character, a real anti-hero who I’d definitely like to write about some more. In fact, you might have just given me an idea…

As to where to start for new readers, I don’t think there’s any right or wrong place. The only order you’d have to follow is to read “Dawn” after “Dusk”, but other than that, just jump in!

Q: Because of your horror background, your fantasy novels have a darker, grittier vibe to them which seems to be a growing trend if you look at authors like Steven Erikson, Joe Abercrombie, Richard K. Morgan (The Steel Remains), David Keck, Alan Campbell, et cetera. What are your thoughts on this movement and the audience's response to such books?

Tim: Some would say (and many have said), that such fiction is becoming more popular because of the dangerous times we find ourselves in right now. Me, I just think people like reading good stories, well told. As far as I’m concerned, the best, most gripping stories are where the darkest, grimmest histories are occurring. Noreela doubtless has many stories to tell of princess weddings, court politics and royal shenanigans, but they won’t be told by me. I enjoy writing about normal people – or normal alternate-world people – facing huge challenges. Sometimes they rise to the occasion, sometimes they’re corrupted by it; sometimes they win, sometimes they lose. That’s life. And for me, the important thing about writing fantasy is to make the characters, and their reactions to situations, believable. This may be fantasy, but all good fantasy is about being human.

The reaction I’ve had to these books has been mixed, and that’s fine. For “Dusk”, some readers said it redefined the genre, others said it was clichéd-ridden. I’d rather have reaction like that, than mere apathy.

I’m very excited to see what people think of “Fallen”. I definitely think it’s several steps onward and upward from “Dusk” and “Dawn” . . . I guess they were my initial foray into fantasy, and with “Fallen” I feel as if I’m settling in a bit. Hopefully, for a long run!

Q: Speaking of horror, why doesn't the genre get the same kind of love in literature that fantasy and science fiction does? What can be done to correct the problem?

Tim: Blimey, if I could answer this question… Really, I don’t know. Horror exists in any and every genre (many people have called my Noreela novels horror novels set in an alternate world, and I see their point). Defining horror, what people want from it, why it doesn’t sell as well as fantasy or science fiction (if that’s indeed the case), all these questions are raised time and again. I have no easy answers.

Q: In a recent interview
HERE, Christopher Golden talks a bit about "Mind the Gap: A Novel of the Hidden Cities" which comes out May 20, 2008 and is a co-authored by you and Chris. Is there anything else you'd like to say about "Mind the Gap", its sequel "The Map of Moments", and the young adult novels that Chris mentioned?

Tim: I’ve had a fantastic time writing these books with Chris. He’s a fine writer, a huge imagination, and a great storyteller. We’re both immensely proud of these books, and we’re hoping the Novels of the Hidden Cities will continue long into the future. There’s certainly no shortage of cities for us to write about! We collaborate well, we see many things from the same point of view, and I really believe we’ve come up with something in these books that neither of us would have written otherwise. There’s a website at where there’s more information.

As for the YA novels, yes, we’ll be writing two novels under the title The Secret Journeys of Jack London for
Atheneum. You heard it here first! Very excited about these books, and there’ll be more information released about them pretty soon.

Q: Could you also tell us more about the British Invasion anthology (
Cemetery Dance-May 28, 2008) that you edited with Christopher Golden + James A. Moore, and any other writing projects?

Tim:British Invasion” was a huge amount of fun. Myself, Chris and Jim were sitting in the bar at a convention a few years back, discussing the differences (if any…) between British and US genre writing. One of us said ‘You know, we should edit an anthology for publication in the USA and call it British Invasion. Brit-only stories!’ I think it was Chris who decided to try and sell it there and then. The three of us finished our drinks and marched down to the dealers’ room, cornered Rich Chizmar, and fifteen minutes after the anthology was imagined, it was sold. I think it’s a very strong anthology, containing original stories from the likes of Ramsey Campbell, Phil Nutman, Mark Chadbourn, Paul Meloy, and many more. I’ll be excited to see the reaction when it’s released.

As for other stuff, I have a lot of work due out this year. As well as “Fallen” and the forthcoming “Mind the Gap”, I’m delighted that my new horror novel “Bar None” will be published by
Night Shade Books this year. “A Whisper of Southern Lights” has just been released by Necessary Evil Press, and in September Humdrumming will publish my new novella “The Reach of Children”. There’s a huge collection of short fiction due soon, and I’ve also written the first novel in a young adult trilogy which my agent is sending out right now. Very excited about that. There are a couple of other projects I can’t mention yet. All in all, it’s shaping up to be a busy year.

Q: Definitely sounds like it! Finally, could you give us an update on how the movie versions of your books including "White" are progressing, and if anything else has been optioned since the last time we

Tim:White” is still ticking along. I’ve read a screenplay from
The Mob Film Co. who’ve optioned “Until She Sleeps”, and it’s excellent. Expecting big things of that. A couple of other options are crawling along at snail’s pace, and it looks like “Face” will be optioned again soon (for the third time). I think “Fallen” would make a superb, dark fantasy movie, but I think a lot of studios are still nervous about this sort of property because of the Tolkien/Jackson comparisons.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Winners of the William Dietrich & Lois McMaster Bujold Giveaways! Plus, miscellaneous news..

Congratulations to Amy Dange (North Carolina), Margaret Herrin (Tennessee), Brian Kovich (Illinois), Eugene Mortensen (California), and Mary Williams (Missouri) who were all randomly selected to win a SET of William Dietrich’s Ethan Gage novels including copies of “Napoleon’s Pyramids” (Paperback) and “The Rosetta Key”, all thanks to HarperCollins!!!

Congratulations also to Stephanie Howlett-West (California) who was randomly selected to win a SET of
Lois McMaster Bujold’s The Sharing Knife novels including copies of “Beguilement”, “Legacy” and her new book “Passage” thanks to EOS Books!!! For excerpts, be sure to visit the ‘Browse Inside’ feature HERE and check out Fantasy Book Critic’s review of “Passage” and an interview with the author HERE.

In news, just a few tidbits… One,
Clare Bell’s new book “Ratha’s Courage”, the fifth volume in the Named series, has been recently released as an E-book HERE via Baen Books Webscriptions. The young adult fantasy series about sentient prehistoric cats was at one time pretty popular, but unfortunately “Ratha’s Courage” was unable to secure print publication, so the author decided to go a different route. Basically, if “Ratha’s Courage” does well in E-book format, then there’s a good chance that fans will see the novel published in print.

Secondly, awarding-winning screenwriter (La Cucina) and author
A.W. Gryphon is holding an auction HERE in support of Women's Cancer Research. The auction ends Wednesday, April 30th and the prize is a SIGNED COPY of Allison’s debut novel “Blood Moon”:

London, England. Mysterious. Beautiful. Full of legends and lore. It is home and a safe place for Ameila Pivens Kreutzer. For an ancient society of witch hunters, and practitioners, it is an easy place to go unnoticed. And for Scotland Yard’s Denny Carlisle, on All Hallows Eve, when the Full Blood Moon reaches its highest point in the sky, it will become a city of awe and mayhem as the most powerful witch in modern history rises, to avenge her lost love and forever end the ancient war among the witches and those who hunt them…

Blood Moon” is the first book in the Witches' Moon Trilogy and you check out a review of the book via
Darque Reviews.

Pyr Books has unveiled the John Picacio artwork (see above) for the publisher’s June 2008 reissue of Robert Silverberg’s classic novel “Son of Man”. All I can say is, wow

Around the Blogosphere:

Adventures in Reading mentions that the prologue to Elizabeth Bear’s upcoming new book “Ink & Steel” can be found online HERE. “Ink & Steel” is the third volume in the Promethean Age series and will be released July 1st followed by the fourth volume, “Hell & Earth”, in August 2008.
Andrew Wheeler has reviewed a couple of books that I’m a big fan of including Paul Melko’s debut novel “Singularity’s RingHERE and “The Born QueenHERE, the excellent concluding volume to Greg Keyes’ The Kingdoms of Thorn & Bone fantasy series…
Dark Wolf has very nice, story-by-story review of the John Joseph Adams-edited anthology “WastelandsHERE which is just one of the many books that I need to read :)
Darque Reviews covers Thomas E. Sniegoski’s forthcoming book “A Kiss Before the ApocalypseHERE which is in my review pile. Kimberly also reviews Charlaine Harris’ new Southern Vampire book “From Dead To WorseHERE, a series that I’d like to try out one day…
FantasyBookSpot has a short, but interesting interview with Ekaterina Sedia, author “The Secret History of Moscow”, HERE.
~Over at
Fantasy & Sci-Fi Lovin’ Book Reviews, there are a few nice giveaways going on including a copy of Cheryl Brooks’ novel “SlaveHERE, a copy of Scott Mackay’s upcoming book “Omega Sol”—which I hope to review if I have time ;)—and a BOX DVD SET of Alien Nation: Ultimate Movie Collection HERE!!! Want more chances to win a BOX DVD SET of Alien Nation: Ultimate Movie Collection? Well you’re in luck because SciFiChick is also hosting a giveaway for a BOX SET HERE :D
Fantasy Debut has a great review HERE of the debut novel “Truancy” by Isamu Fukui who wrote the book when he was fifteen! Tia also spotlightsNight Life” by Caitlin Kittredge who I had the pleasure of meeting at the Norwescon :)
Graeme’s Fantasy Book Reviews reveals his thoughts on Richard K. Morgan’s forthcoming fantasy novel “The Steel RemainsHERE. In fact, reviews of this book have been popping up all over the place including Sandstorm Reviews and The Book Swede, not to mention the earlier coverage including The Genre Files, Joe Abercrombie & The Wertzone. Considering that the book isn’t even out until August 21, 2008 (UK-Gollanzc), that’s already a lot of advance press. But you know what? It deserves it. I was lucky enough to read a proof and “The Steel Remains” is just an amazing novel. Basically, if you like epic fantasy that is gritty and unconventional, and you’re a fan of Richard K. Morgan, then “The Steel Remains” is the perfect storm :) As far as Fantasy Book Critic, a review is definitely on the way, but you probably won’t see it until much closer to the book’s August 21st release date…
Leap In the Dark has a fantastic review HERE of “The Hakawati” by Rabih Alemeddine which is described as an ‘Arabian Nights for this century’. The book definitely sounds interesting and is out today!
Neth Space actually has a rare giveaway going on HERE :) This time he’s giving away a copy of Margaret Weis’ new book “Amber & Blood” which concludes her Dark Disciple trilogy.
Newsarama has a report HERE about the Dabel Brothers panel at this year’s New York Comic Con, which talks about their projects including Dean Koontz’ Frankenstein: Prodigal Son, George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards: The Hard Call, and The Dresden Files: Welcome To the Jungle.
~As usual,
OF Blog of the Fallen has some interesting articles including How to be a better, more pretentious blogger/review :) Larry also makes up his own list of speculative fiction books that should be read HERE in response to Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist’s list of What to read next?
~Speaking of Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist, there’s a wonderful interview HERE with Kay Kenyon, author of “Bright of the Sky” and “A World Too Near” from her SF series The Entire and the Rose. The interview was actually a collaboration with Rob from SFFWorld :) Also, there’s a giveaway for Jeff Somers’The Digital PlagueHERE—yet another book that I hope to review—and a REVIEW of Brian Ruckley’sBloodheir”, which is the sequel to “Winterbirth”. For another review of “Bloodheir”, be sure to check out The Book Swede.
~If you haven’t seen it yet,
Realms of Speculative Fiction has this great article HERE highlighting a bunch of SF/fantasy-related blogs, including yours truly :) It’s a fantastic list and it’s pretty cool to see how many excellent blogs there are out there! Also be sure to browse around Realms of Speculative Fiction while you’re there because the website has a lot of wonderful content to offer…
The Wertzone has a fabulous post HERE for readers who aren’t familiar with Britisth SF author Alastair Reynolds and a review of Stephen Baxter’s forthcoming book “FloodHERE.
Monday, April 21, 2008

"Iron Angel" by Alan Campbell

Official Alan Campbell Website
Official Alan Campbell Blog
Order “Iron Angel
HERE + HERE (UK-May 2, 2008)
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s Reviews of “
Scar Night” + “Lye Street
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s INTERVIEW with Alan Campbell

For me, reading Alan Campbell’s debut novel “Scar Night” was a mixed affair. On the one hand, I was really impressed by the author’s vivid imagination and couldn’t get enough of Deepgate—an ancient Gormenghastian city suspended by giant chains over a cavernous abyss that is home to Ulcis, god of chains and Hoarder of Souls—the exotic characters, and the rest of Alan’s gothic, steampunk-influenced world of fallen gods, angels, and demons. On the other hand, I was incredibly frustrated by the inconsistent writing which I felt prevented the novel from reaching its full potential and therefore had some reservations before starting the second book in The Deepgate Codex. Not only were those worries unfounded, but “Iron Angel” may just end up being one of the best fantasy novels I read this year…

Like its predecessor, “Iron Angel” is all about the environment and the aura, but where “Scar Night” primarily took place in the city of Deepgate, Alan’s new book widely broadens the canvas and takes readers all across the Deadsands, into the land of Pandemeria, and down into the depths of Hell. So if you thought Deepgate was fascinating, wait until you get a glimpse of Cinderbark Wood—a forest where every single branch, thorn, twig, and root is saturated with toxins that kill at a single touch—Pandemeria where technology is fueled by soul magic, and my personal favorite, Hell. Of this last, I was reminded of
Wayne Barlowe’s Paradise Lost-inspired novel “God’s Demon” because of the way souls are used as building materials for such things as walls, doors, weaponry and vehicles, but there the comparison ends and Alan’s lurid imagination takes over, envisioning all sorts of wonderful and macabre ideas including Icarates, witchspheres, Iolites, dogcatchers, the Legion of the Blind, shiftblades, and the colossal arconites—‘iron & bone-forged automatons built around an angel’s soul.’ Creatively, “Iron Angel” is one of the richest and most inventive novels I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing—almost every single page reveals something new—and for me the highlight of the book was discovering every unique characteristic that the world had to offer.

Almost as compelling was the story which builds on the mythos that was hinted at in “Scar Night”, specifically the War Amongst the Gods when Iril and his seven sons rebelled against the goddess Ayen and were defeated with Iril shattered to pieces throughout the Maze in Hell, the sons imprisoned on earth, and the gates to Heaven sealed. From this setup we learn that Ayen’s sons are plotting a new uprising against the goddess, but before they can accomplish that they must first defeat the upstart King Menoa and his army of Mesmerists who have been warring with the fallen gods for centuries to escape from Hell and make the world their own. Unfortunately, because of what happened at the end of “Scar Night”, a second portal to Hell has been breached under the city of Deepgate and with the gods’ forces firmly entrenched in Pandemeria, the brothers have enlisted the aid of Cospinol—god of brine & fog, the second oldest of Ayen’s sons, and the only one to remain imprisoned—to seal the portal before the Mesmerists can gain a foothold. As payment for this mission, Cospinol is told of the scarred angel Carnival, the daughter of Ayen’s eldest son Ulcis and the key to his freedom…

From here, “Iron Angel” is divided into three parts—each reads like a separate story but are connected overall—with the first set in Deepgate and the surrounding Deadsands including Sandport and the Cinderbark Wood. In this segment, ex-Spine assassin Rachel Hael and the angel Dill are trying to avoid the clutches of the Spine who are tempering everyone they can get their hands on—it’s a technique using torture and neural toxins that scours away a person’s ego & emotions, while allowing them to temporarily heighten their senses. Readers also get to visit a vastly different Deepgate, one that is literally falling apart and haunted at night by phantasms, as well as meeting for the first time John Anchor, an immortal giant who serves Cospinol by pulling his ship Rotsward and collecting souls. For John, his two primary goals are reaching Deepgate and finding Carnival… In the second segment Alan takes us to Hell where King Menoa and Hasp, youngest of Ayen’s seven sons and Lord of the First Citadel, are fighting for Dill’s soul. Also involved in this subplot are Mina Greene—a thaumaturgist who was first introduced in the novella “Lye Street”—and Alice Harper, one of the new character POVs. Finally, the last segment takes place in Pandemeria and concerns a diplomatic mission securing a new peace treaty between King Menoa and Rys, the god of flowers and knives. In this segment expect convergences, Victorian steampunk, a mystery, thaumaturgy, murder, betrayal, war and a wicked cliffhanger…

As a whole, I just thought the story rocked! The prologue was superb, the mythology fascinating, the conflicts epic and compelling, the villains were larger-than-life, the narrative was unpredictable, the action cinematic (and gory), and the climax was breathtaking promising one hell of a battle in the third and final chapter of The Deepgate Codex :) In short, Alan Campbell just does a much better job with the plotting in “Iron Angel” than he did in his debut. In fact, Alan’s overall performance is much better including stronger prose and more consistent characterization, all of which really complements the author’s already impressive descriptive and creative gifts. Plus, taking a page out of his “Lye Street” novella, there’s a bit more humor in the book—thanks to John Anchor, Mina Greene, the Soft Men and the White Swords—which I really appreciated :)

That all said, the book still has some room for improvement starting with the characterization which remains a bit shallow, while some of the narrative choices were questionable like the forgettable Alice Harper; writing from the viewpoint of the cutthroat Jack Caulker instead of John Anchor who would have been much more interesting; and characters being underrepresented or disappearing for long stretches. There were also a few pacing problems in the third segment particularly with the train sequence, and times when Alan really leaves the reader hanging, like wondering what happened to Carnival after her confrontation with John Anchor. While these are all issues that the author can work on improving, none of them really detract from the novel’s enjoyment. Sure, improvements in these areas would definitely enrich the book, but you have to understand that “Iron Angel”—and The Deepgate Codex in general—is more about the setting and the ambiance and offering escapism than it is deep characterization or stimulating moral examinations. So at times it may feel like you’re reading a comic book, or playing a videogame, or even watching a cartoon/anime, but that’s all part of the novel’s appeal and I for one wouldn’t want to change that.

In the end, Alan Campbell takes everything that was great about “Scar Night”—the concept, the unforgettable milieu, the evocative atmosphere—and makes it all bigger & better, while fixing most of the problems that plagued the debut. The end result is a huge improvement over “Scar Night” and just an incredible urban/gothic fantasy that will be hard to top…
Friday, April 18, 2008

Interview with Alan Campbell

Read Fantasy Book Critic’s Reviews of “Scar Night” + “Lye Street

A former designer and programmer of the internationally bestselling video game series Grand Theft Auto, Alan Campbell made his writing debut in 2006 with “Scar Night”, one of the most interesting fantasy novels to be released in recent years and the first book in The Deepgate Codex. Continuing the series is the sequel “Iron Angel” and in promotion of the new book’s release, Alan has graciously answered several questions that cover a variety of topics including new & returning characters, the Deepgate novella “Lye Street”, why the second novel was harder to write than the first, and plenty more…

Q: “Iron Angel”, the follow-up to your debut novel “Scar Night” (2008), is scheduled for publication April 29, 2008 in North America and May 2, 2008 for UK readers. For those who haven’t read “Scar Night” yet, what are they missing out on?

Alan: The city of Deepgate is suspended by chains over a seemingly bottomless abyss. It's an ancient, crumbling place ruled by the Church of Ulcis at its heart. On the day a naive young angel, Dill, begins his service in the Church he is assigned a new overseer, the cynical assassin Rachel Hael. The story follows their growing friendship, through Dill's first tentative steps outside the Church, and ultimately to the depths of the abyss beneath the city.

Two murderers are loose in the chained city: The scarred angel Carnival, who hunts for souls on the night of the dark moon; And the Church's own Master Poisoner, Alexander Devon, who is performing illegal experiments in secret. One of them has killed the daughter of a loner and drunk, Mr. Nettle.

When Mr. Nettle decides to take revenge for his daughter's murder, he sets in motion a series of events that endangers the chained city and everyone in it.

Q: For those who have read “Scar Night”, what can they expect in “Iron Angel”?

Alan: The cataclysm at the end of “Scar Night” has attracted the attention of a new enemy. “Iron Angel” follows some of the key characters from “Scar Night” and “Lye Street” through a war that extends from the chained city, into Hell itself, to the distant land of Pandemeria. Hmm. I'm finding it hard to say more without giving too much away. Like “Scar Night”, it's a complex tale told from the viewpoints of multiple characters. It's probably darker. And because it's set in the midst of a vast war, it's necessarily much more violent than the first book.

Q: Originally, the UK version of the sequel was titled “Penny Devil” before they decided to go with “Iron Angel”. Why were there different titles in the first place, and what does ‘Iron Angel’ refer to in the book?

Alan: I wanted to call the book “Penny Devil”, but my US publishers weren't overly keen on that title and suggested “Iron Angel” for the US market. Of course I didn't mind at all. Then
Macmillan thought it would cause less confusion if we then renamed the book here in the UK. It made a lot of sense. So “Iron Angel” it is. The title refers to changes experienced by a character in the book.

Q: A couple of the characters returning for the sequel are the angel Dill and the Spine assassin Rachel Hael. How have these two evolved from the first book, and what other familiar faces will be appearing in “Iron Angel”?

Alan: Rachel's cynicism has turned firmly against the Spine. She no longer recognizes herself as a temple assassin or yearns to be tempered, and continues to find her humanity through her feelings for Dill, or what's left of him. Dill evolves more than any other character. In “Scar Night” he found the courage to overcome his fears. In “Iron Angel” he grows up, more so than he would have imagined.

Q: Of the new characters, there’s the god of brine & fog Cospinol and the giant John Anchor who is forced to pull the god’s vessel. What can you tell us about these and any other new characters that will be making an appearance?

Alan: John Anchor is amiable and gregarious on the surface, but he has a hidden, darker side. He arrives from Pandemeria to murder Carnival and ends up on a mission of mercy. And he shoulders a burden much greater than that of Cospinol's airship.

His master, Cospinol, is the oldest of the living gods and yet he is the last to remain imprisoned as Ulcis was. He's very much under the thumb of his younger brothers, and naturally resents them for that. Despite his impotence, Cospinol's relationship with his slave has given him more human qualities than his siblings. He is the best hope for mankind. Mina Greene from “Lye Street” reappears as one of the five key characters in Iron Angel. She has grown up, but her demonic little dog hasn't.

Q: I had a feeling we hadn’t seen the last of Mina and her demon dog :) So between all of the characters you’ve written so far, do you have a favorite?

Alan: I like Mr. Nettle, because of his relentless determination.

Q: One of the most distinguishing qualities of “Scar Night” was the setting, particularly the city of Deepgate. While Deepgate was primarily the focus of your debut, you hinted at a much larger world. Will we get to see any of that world in “Iron Angel” and if so, can you give us a preview?

Alan: Of course. This is the introduction to Pandemeria:

The train to Coreollis rumbled along a narrow slag embankment above Upper Cog City, dragging mountains of smoke behind it. The lower districts remained flooded, but here the waters had receded some fifteen yards below the raised steel tracks, leaving streets clogged with silt and rusting warships. From the embankment's slopes to the horizon, ten thousand vessels had been left to rot among the waterlogged shops and houses. Mangled heaps of gunboats and destroyers filled the plazas of Highcliff and the Theatre District, while the cries of these adapted souls rose higher still. Battleships loomed like great red headlands above rows of townhouse roofs, their hulls scarred by cannon-fire or scraped and dented by rubble from collapsed buildings, their groans of pain long and low. A Mesmerist-adapted war-barge had come to rest against the roof of the cathedral in Revolution Square, her bow pointing skywards, her stern deep amid café-tables and mud. The late evening sun gave a molten edge to those funnels, decks and gun-batteries which rose above the chimneystacks, and bathed the brickwork between ships in soft amber light.

South of the terminus the embankment sank with the surrounding streets towards Sill River, and here the waters rose to within a foot of the newly-laid railway sleepers. Flooded lanes looped around the Offal Quarter factories like a giant fingerprint, or like the canals of Hell, all choked with flotsam, furniture and corpses. Nacreous swirls of oil and yellow, aquamarine and ochre froths revolved between hull, keel and lamppost. Cannon-boats drifted in the deep square pools of old Workhouse Yards or lay beached on tenement roofs, their lines fouled in weathervanes. The bloodied waters in Emerald Street, Minster Street and Canary Row were clogged with steam-yachts and with painted dolls from the Low Cog Puppet Workshop. A breeze came up from the city: bitter, engine-scented air full of hot dust and strange metallic cries.

Q: As far as Deepgate, where did you get the inspiration for the city? What does it represent, both for you personally, and in the story?

Alan: The idea came to me in a hostel room in Budapest. The crumbling towers and glooming courtyards probably have their roots in Gormenghast, since that book had such a profound effect on me. In the story Deepgate simply represents life suspended over the unknown, the constant proximity of death.

Q: You’re an atheist, yet religion plays a very important role in the series. Why, and are you trying to make any statements about religion, especially regarding the science vs. theology theme that can be found in the books?

Alan: I'm not trying to make a conscious statement about religion. Faith is an integral part of all societies, and so you can't ignore it in fantasy. The conflict between science and theology in “Scar Night” seemed inevitable, just as it has been in our world.

Q: As is often the case, both the US and UK covers for your books sport different artwork. What do you think about the different covers and what are your thoughts on the subject as a whole, including how important artwork is in selling a book, how speculative fiction covers are considered generic, the difference between international & stateside covers, et cetera?

Alan: They say don't judge a book by its cover, but we all do. I think artwork is tremendously important. A dodgy cover would never stop me from buying a book I wanted to read, but I've picked up books from the shelf simply because the cover caught my eye. I'm fortunate to have had remarkably talented artists create my book covers and illustrations. They have all been superb. Are speculative fiction considered generic? I suppose a large number of fantasy covers portray magical landscapes which seem to promise the reader escapism. If it works, then why not?

Q: What kind of response has your debut received in the UK compared to North America, and what differences have you noticed between the two book scenes, specifically for speculative fiction?

Alan: I have no idea what my US sales have been. I didn't think to ask – I was too busy working on the next one.
Macmillan tells me that the UK sales have been very strong. “Scar Night” went into reprint very quickly. The press response has been good.

Q: For “Scar Angel”,
Pan Macmillan designed a pretty cool website for the book HERE. Is either of the labels doing anything special in promotion of the new book “Iron Angel”?

Alan: Again, I don't know. I'll leave all that to the publishers, while I focus on the third book.

Q: Back in January 2008,
Subterranean Press released a limited edition prequel novella called “Lye Street” which ends where the prologue in “Scar Night” begins. How did the novella come about, and what was it like having such talented artists as Dave McKean + Bob Eggleton involved in the project?

Alan: The novella came about when Bill at
Subterranean Press emailed me with the suggestion. I loved the idea of a limited edition novella and greatly enjoyed writing it. To have such talented artists involved was a dream. My father is an artist and I've worked alongside artists for most of my life. I'm constantly in awe of their work. If I could draw or paint, I'd be doing it myself.

Q: How different was it writing a 26,000 word novella compared to the long-form novels you’ve completed? What do you feel are the advantages and disadvantages between the two formats?

Alan: I suppose I'm naturally inclined towards large complex stories, as a reader as much as a writer. The short format of the novella obviously limits the complexity of the story you can write. It needs to be simpler. But otherwise I don't see any great differences between the two. And of course the advantage of the novella is that you don't need to juggle so many things in your mind.

Q: One of the things I noticed when reading “Lye Street” was that it had a lot more humor, especially black humor, in the novella than it did in your debut. Is that something we can expect to see in the sequel?

Alan: I think there is more humour in “Iron Angel”. But it's darker too.

Q: Looking back, what are your overall thoughts on how “Scar Night” turned out? Would you change anything if you had the chance?

Alan: I'm happy with the way “Scar Night” turned out. If I read it again, I'm sure I'd find a thousand things I'd want to change, but I don't intend to read it for a long, long time. Seven drafts are enough for now.

Q: For some authors it’s easier writing their second novel, while for others it’s more difficult. How was it for you, and did you learn anything when writing “Scar Night” that helped prepare you for “Iron Angel”?

Alan:Iron Angel” was more difficult for me because I was up against a deadline. There was a lot of pressure that simply wasn't there while I was writing “Scar Night”. I suppose writing the first book prepared me for the process of revision. It isn't easy to chop out huge chunks of narrative that you like. But if they don't work, then they have to go. It's like the opposite of the way local councils work.

Q: I believe the Deepgate Codex is projected as a trilogy. Is that still going according to plan, and how far along are you with the next book? Any details you can share?

Alan: It is still projected as a trilogy, and I'm storming ahead with the third installment. It's probably too early to share any details, because the story in my head will probably evolve considerably before the book is published.

Q: You’ve mentioned before that you’re involved in a bunch of other writing projects like short stories, comic books, screenplays, etc. Can you talk about any of these projects? What about other Deepgate Codex-related endeavors that might be in the works or that you’d like to pursue?

Alan: These are all on the back burner right now, while I concentrate on the third book. But I have enough ideas to keep me going for the next decade or so. I don't know how many will find their way into print. There is another Deepgate-related endeavor in the pipeline, but I don't think I'm allowed to talk about it.

Q: Speaking of comics and screenplays, has there been any interest or any of your books optioned for adaptation (of any kind), and if so, can you give us some details?

Alan: There was a flurry of interest from a lot of film production companies in the US. I'm still waiting.

Q: Well hopefully you’ll hear back :) Just out of curiosity though, what would be your dream adaptation for the Deepgate Codex?

Alan: It would be nice to see Tim Burton's interpretation of Deepgate. I like to joke about it, but I haven't really given it any serious thought. The odds are very much against it happening. My partner thinks Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp ought to be in any film production, but I've no idea why.

Q: Tim Burton would be a great choice! I also wouldn’t mind Alex Proyas (The Crow, Dark City) taking a stab at the film…

Now because of your experience as a videogame designer/programmer and now as a fiction author, what are your thoughts on the cross-pollination today between different mediums such as literature and movies, comic books and videogames, TV and animation, etc? Is it getting to the point where writing in one format just isn’t enough?

Alan: Writing fiction is just telling stories, and most of these mediums are different ways of presenting stories. There's going to be the inevitable cross-pollination. But I don't think sticking to one format limits a writer's career. Video games are interactive, and so I think they're more of a fringe medium for writers. Writing can provide some background depth, atmosphere, but it's far less important than game-play. Tetris didn't have a plot.

Q: Actually, you recently got back in the videogame business, this time as a writer. How does the experience differ from when you worked as a designer/programmer, and what have you learned from writing novels that has aided you in writing for a videogame?

Alan: When I first worked in videogames I was far more involved in design and in problem solving on an engineering level. My job this time round was simply to fill in details and provide a foundation that the designers could use as a reference. Novels are heavily structured, and I think it's a mistake to apply the same sort of rigid format to a game. When a game is forced to adhere to a plot, then it's doomed.

Q: Some of the authors that you’ve listed as influences include Mervyn Peake, M. John Harrison, George R. R. Martin, Steven Erickson, Alan Moore, Stephen R. Donaldson, Iain M. Banks, Michael Moorcock, Philip K. Dick, etc. One thing they all have in common is that they write speculative fiction. What is it about speculative fiction that you not only love to read about, but you also love to write?

Alan: The simple answer is that it sparks the imagination – or my imagination at any rate. Speculative fiction is full of cool ideas. That's not to say I won't thoroughly enjoy a good Western or Thriller.

Q: Has anything else influenced your writing, like movies, music, art?

Alan: It sounds weird, but the Pixies probably had an influence on my writing. I listened to them a lot while I was writing “Scar Night”. The chains, the self-mutilation, it's all there in Frank Black's lyrics.

Q: That's interesting. Now since you weren’t able to participate in the 2007 Review/2008 Preview
HERE, I thought I would take this opportunity to ask you again. Basically, what were your favorite books that you read in 2007 and what titles are you most looking forward to in 2008?

Alan: 2007:

Blood Meridian” by
Cormac McCarthy
The Road” by
Cormac McCarthy
Tao Zero” by
Poul Anderson
The Theory of Poker” by David Slansky


I still have a lot of catching up to do. So I'll read all those books I've been meaning to, including: “Winterbirth” by
Brian Ruckley, “Before They are Hanged” by Joe Abercrombie, and "Ink" by Hal Duncan. Then I'll have a look at what's coming out in 2008. Of course it will be 2009 by then.

Q: Besides writing, you also have a passion for photography. How is that going for you and what do you hope to accomplish?

Alan: It's going fine, but I've been too busy to take many new photographs. The ones already in my stock library still generate some income. When I have more free time, I'll add to that stock.

Q: Reading your blog
HERE, you’ve had the most extraordinary battle with a phone company! I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it :) What has this experience taught you?

Alan: Fortunately it has all now been resolved by a nice chap from BT who read “Scar Night”, and then looked up my blog. It's taught me that keeping a blog is really good idea, even if I mostly use it to rant.

Q: Do you have any last thoughts or comments you’d like to share?

Alan: Thanks for taking the time to ask all those questions. And did you know that the world's largest living organism is believed to be a fungus living under a forest in Oregon. Cool, huh?


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