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Friday, December 27, 2019

2019 Review/2020 Preview — Anna Stephens

2019 Favorites

Well, most of 2019 was a burning apocalyptic wasteland, so it’s nice to focus on the good stuff that happened during it too, to remind ourselves that there is still some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.

I’m woefully behind on reading current works, but I did manage a few that I loved, so here goes:

1. The Poison Song, by Jen Williams. This is book 3 in the Winnowing Flame series, the first two of which BOTH won the British Fantasy Society award for best novel. And deservedly so. The Poison Song is just as complex, fun, heartbreaking and majestic, and is surely a shoo-in (is that how you spell that?) for the award next year. It made me punch the air, laugh, and sob quite a bit. 

2. God of Gnomes, by Demi Harper. This is a LitRPG novel published through Portal Books. I’ve never read in that genre before, so I was excited to dive in and it was all sorts of fun, being the story of a God Core whose existence depends on the little tribe of gnomes who find him and worship him. Their worship gives him powers to help the tribe and fight off enemy kobolds sent by a rival god core, leading to mutual benefits for the god and the gnomes. It was fun, endearing and full of terrible puns – what’s not to like? 

3. The Black Hawks, by Dave Wragg, is a fun fantasy romp following a band of mismatched mercenaries as they stumble from disaster to defeat to ambush, all the while dragging a baffled prince and his hapless bodyguard across country with them. 

New released that I own but haven’t yet read, but know will be excellent, include A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie, Realm of Ash by Tasha Suri and Memo from Turner by Tim Willocks.

Regarding non-book great stuff, a big shout out to:

1. Season 4 of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, which continues to be inclusive, adorable and just perfect in every way.

2. Season 3 of Dear White People, which remains topical and challenging around issues of race and identity, as well as the intersections between race and gender, and race and sexual orientation. 

3. Captain Marvel, which did everything Endgame so spectacularly failed to do.

And, obviously, Rise of Skywalker, which I haven’t seen at the time of writing but am frothing with excitement about. 

There’s also the Alien RPG boardgame which releases on 10 December which looks amazing.

Looking Forward to in 2020

So. Many. Things. 

1. Lady Hotspur, by Tessa Gratton. I read and fell in love with Queens of Innis Lear in 2018 and am really excited for her gender-flipped, queer reimagining of Shakespeare’s Henry IV. It also continues the saga, albeit centuries later, begun in Queens. 

2. Jen Williams’ new book, Dog Rose Dirt. This one is a serial killer thriller, not fantasy, but Jen is an auto-buy for me because she is simply spectacular at everything she does, and also just a lovely person. 

3. The Hollow Empire, by Sam Hawke. This is the sequel to City of Lies from 2018, which won a bunch of awards and deserved every one. Full disclosure: I’m beta-reading the first draft of this and it. Is. Excellent. I can’t wait to see the final version once Sam and her editor have done their work. 

3. God of Gnomes 2, by Demi Harper. See above. 

4. Camelot, by Giles Kristian. I loved Lancelot, which came out in 2018, so I can’t wait to get back into Giles’ particular imagining of the Arthurian legend. I really loved his use of language and setting in the first one, and can’t wait to see where he goes with the story of Galahad, Lancelot’s son. 

Non-book stuff
1. The new Doctor Who. I am frothing at the mouth waiting for it. I love Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor, and I really loved the historical and political episodes of her first season. 

There will be hundreds of other things too, but this one I’m really excited about.

On the Horizon for Anna Stephens

Well, my debut trilogy is now complete and out in the world and I am working on a brand new series. I can’t really say much about it at the moment, other than that it is not set in the Godblind universe at all and that this time I am delving into the realm of magic and monsters. So it’s a new challenge, but I’m having a lot of fun with it. 

2020 will also see my first Age of Sigmar stories published through Black Library. It’s really good fun to write in that IP and the editors are all great at double-checking the lore and history to make sure you don’t accidentally write a cult out of existence or something like that. 

Prior to both of those, though, I have a short story coming out with Cohesion Press in their latest SNAFU anthology – SNAFU: Last Stand. It’s a military horror anthology and my story is called Skitter. It features Syl Stoneheart, my foul-mouthed mercenary, and her mercenary company the Iron Blades. The anthology will be out before Christmas, so if you’re looking for something for that hard to buy for reader, you might want to give it a look. 

I’ll also be running my first DnD campaign as DM. It’s only going to be a mini campaign, but I’m both excited and terrified to be behind the screen as some dear friends try to destroy my carefully constructed campaign story.

About the Author


Anna Stephens is the author of the Godblind trilogy: Godblind, Darksoul, and Bloodchild, which are published through HarperVoyager in the UK and Commonwealth, and Talos Press in North America. Translation deals for French, German, Dutch, Polish and Czechoslovakian versions have also been agreed, with the trilogy published at various stages in those languages. 

A literature graduate from the Open University, Anna loves all things speculative, from books to film and TV, including classic Hammer and Universal horror films, as well as DnD and the chameleon genius of David Bowie. 

As a practitioner of Historical European Martial Arts, with a focus on Italian longsword, and a second Dan black belt in Shotokan Karate, she’s no stranger to the feeling of being hit in the face, which is more help than you would expect when writing fight scenes. 

Follow Anna on Twitter: @AnnaSmithWrites



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