Archive for November, 2013

I’m doing this thing, you know, with clever techie people who do real stuff and not make nonsense up like I do for a living. They’re called Boosh, “Book Share”, see ? Now that’s clever in itself, but it’s not the really clever bit. As I wrote here, and I’ll repeat for those who can’t be bothered to click on the link, their app is designed for two great purposes. Number One, to allow you to read books easily upon an e-reader you probably didn’t know you had, to wit, your phone. Number Two, you can share your book with your buddies. When you buy a book on Boosh, it costs less, because you’re buying a license, not the product. Think of it like streaming movies on Netflix, but with books, you with me?

As part of this fine new idea, I’m involved in a promotion. That’s right, tou can have one of my books, Reality 36, absolutely for free, and share it with your pals. My previous post announced this tip-top deal for Android system users. Well, guess what? (Hint: it’s in the title). It’ll work on iOS now too! So, if you’ve either an Apple phone or an Android one, and you want a copy of this fine piece of near-future robot detective fiction, go to my official Facebook page, and click “like”. The marvels of the internet age should do the rest for you by directing you to the appropriate version of the (free, did I say free) app which will get you your free (did I mention this?) book.


This piece comes from Death Ray 17, published originally in 2009. Seeing as Ender’s Game is out at the pictures now, I figured I’d put this up. I think this is one of my favourite interviews, too; Card is so deliciously outspoken.

I’ve a number of these  long interviews with major science fiction and fantasy authors, but they take time to format, time when I should be writing.  So enjoy this one, the next may be a while in coming…

Capped words all Card’s own.

Outspoken, passionate, committed to his beliefs and prolific in his writings, politically Card is one of the more interesting writers in the genre working today.

There are books we all love, the ones we’ve all read, whose stories we know and treasure. The Dunes, The Lord of the Rings and Illustrated Mans of the world. The books that form the backbone of the SF commonality (is it right to call it a community any more? It just seems too diverse). These are the books we long for, and dread, will be made into movies, the interpretations of which we argue over. (more…)

A review of The Clone Wars animated series from Death Ray 16, published in 2008. I enjoyed it, so I must sit down at some point and watch the rest. In this review I am quite hard on my fellow nerds, something for which I will not apologise.

Directors: Dave Filoni and various

Starring: Matt Lanter, Ashley Eckstein, James Arnold Taylor, Dee Bradley Baker, Tom Kane, Nika Futterman, Ian Abercrombie, Corey Burton, Terrence Carson, Catherine Taber, Anthony Daniels

There’s a whiff of inevitability about this CG animated Clone Wars series. Ever since The Phantom Menace, when Lucas decided technology could finally match his vision, he’s been gradually edging out living actors until ta-da! No real people at all.

The Clone Wars animated movie had the predictable savaging from nerds and geeks who feel variously that Lucas has “raped their childhood” (Sheesh! stop with that, okay? [Note from 2013: I was being more light-hearted in my censure of this than I felt, in actual fact, I hold this to be one of the most disgusting phrases I’ve ever heard, especially when applied to something so inconsequential as a cartoon. It makes me very angry]). They’re wrong. The Clone Wars movie was jolly good fun. Yeah, even the baby hutlet. It was actually a pretty good plot, full of the kind of treachery and double-dealing you’d expect from a crime family of space slugs. It made a damn sight more sense that some of the storylines in the live-action movies (we still wonder why the Jedi don’t question who ordered the clones. Answers on a postcard, please), in any case. (more…)

Today, I’m publishing my very first guest blog. That’s right, there are words here, but somebody else wrote them: Stephen Kozeniewski, to be precise. He’s appearing to tell you all about his new book, the blackly comic, P.I. noir, zombie novel (that’s a lot of genres), Braineater Jones. Check out that cover, pretty tasty, no?

I’m happy to accept guest posts, something I’d not thought about before Stephen approached me, so if anybody else out there has something they want to say, drop me a line either here or through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Goodreads, and provided it isn’t weird propaganda for way-out views, I’ll probably publish it. Anyway, without further ado (and without a drumroll, sorry about that), here’s Stephen.


Guy is famous for saying – in fact, I might even go so far as to call it his catchphrase – “Where would I be without goblins?”

Took the words right out of my mouth, Guy!

I’ve been a goblin fanatic (ha!) since I was twelve, way back in… er, well, let’s not get caught up in dates. This isn’t a history lesson, after all. And even as recently as this year, when my wife cuddled up to me by the fire and asked me what I wanted for Valentine’s Day, I think she already knew the answer: a Forest Goblin Big Boss riding a Gigantic Spider.

For that matter, on my birthday this past year, I also received a VERY special present from her. It was a rare novel of compelling power, not to mention the first Black Library novel to focus on greenskins, and not just ANY greenskin but the greatest Night Goblin warlord of all time (a dubious honor to be sure.) I refer of course to the inimitable and immortal Skarsnik. Sadly, I can’t seem to recall the author’s name.

My wife is, presumably, starting to wonder why she married me.

That being said, I’m not sure I can wholly subscribe to Guy’s philosophy in life because…and I hesitate to say this…I am a philistine. Yes, that’s right, I have betrayed the cardinal trust of the author of Skarsnik: I use Orcs in my army, too.

Sorry. I just love Black Orcs too much. (Except Grimgor. Screw that guy.) So, when it comes to a catchphrase/life philosophy, I’ve had to improvise, but I came up with this:

“Where would I be without zombies?”

Sad to say, I’ve never collected an Undead – or if you’re some kind of young whippersnapper, “Vampire Counts” – army. I did once buy a box of zombies, assemble them with great difficulty, prime them, then found myself for about the next 11 years unable to decide whether to attempt to paint them with blue faces (a la Dawn of the Dead) or in greytones (a la Night of the Living Dead.) So, unable to stop equivocating, I just sold them on eBay and bought more goblins. And now you know the rest of the story.

So, no, sadly, it is not because of any tabletop triumphs that I love the shambling dead. The real reason I wouldn’t be anywhere in life without zombies is because of a fellow named Braineater Jones. Ol’ Braineater has a special place in my heart because he is the main character of my first published novel, titled (appropriately enough) Braineater Jones.

Braineater is a zombie who wakes from the dead with a wicked case of amnesia. He sets out to solve his own murder in Prohibition-era America, with the added hurdle that he needs liquor to suppress his urges for sweet, sweet human flesh.

It’s a pretty fun little romp. I like to say it’s bloody enough to satisfy the real gorehound, but not so bloody it’ll turn off the casual reader. I hope you’ll consider checking it out. If you’re interested, you can purchase it in either paperback or e-book format on Amazon, or in e-book format on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iTunes. The links are all right here on my publisher’s page.

And so I’ll leave you with those immortal words stolen (mostly) from Guy Haley (and thanks so much, Guy, for letting me write this guest post):

“Where would I be without zombies?”

The sorrowful death of a tiger

Posted: November 10, 2013 in Random wifflings
Tags: , , ,
Let sleeping cats lie

The cat himself, alas dead and gone.

I’ve been debating whether or not to post about the death of my cat, Buddy. In general, I have a big internal debate ooh, about once a week, about whether or not I should put more personal material up here. Who’d be interested? Is it right to write about something like this on a site which is primarily there to get people to read my books? Am I exploiting him, even?

But seeing as Buddy appears in pretty much every biography of me floating about there in the infosphere, and simply because I want to, I figured I should.

Buddy was a Norwegian Forest Cat. You can check out his personal statistics here. Forest Cats are striking beasts, the second largest domestic moggy after Maine Coons. Buddy was our second, after the first, Charlie, was killed by a car.

Charlie was awesome. My wife wanted a cat, against my better judgement. We saw him in a shelter. He was asleep, all the others were yowling. I’m not a cat person, they piss me off, really, so I suggested this striking looking beast to my wife mostly for his silence. He changed my opinion of moggies. He was a magnificent, somewhat aloof but fundamentally affectionate creature. He was much-loved. I suppose Charlie was a kind of child surrogate for us, our training animal, if you will, before we reproduced. Having a cat and a kid are universes apart, of course, but there was something in the way that Emma and I bonded over Charlie that prepared us emotionally for having a baby.


I’ve got a bunch of stuff I’d like to write about, if I get the time. But I’m making time to write this quick report on the Black Library Weekender, 2013. If you can’t be bothered to read the rest of this post, here’s the short version: It was a lot of fun.

Although I think the format was new to a good number of attendees, the event was very much in the mould of a traditional science fiction convention – panels, seminars, and late nights in the bar. It ran from Saturday to Sunday, but I was also present for the “Golden Ticket” day on Friday, where a limited number of would-be authors brought along a 1000 word short story, and spent the day working on it, listening to the likes of me burble on incoherently about being a writer (sorry about that, one of the drawbacks of being a writer is that you spend so much time on your own you forget how to speak properly), and attending writing seminars. A full day of work, for both authors and attendees.

I failed to realise that those who bought a Golden Ticket were getting a fully-fledged, full-day writing workshop about precisely the kind of writing they were interested in, from the publisher who publishes it. That kind of friendly, critical environment is absolutely invaluable to developing yourself as a writer. My expectations were confounded by the quality of the writing on show. I honestly didn’t expect it to be that good. Quite a lot of amateur writing is very horrible, and a lot of it is committed to paper by people who are utterly convinced of its (utterly absent) merits. They may become aggressive if you are not in agreement. The Golden Ticket holders were good writers, and all receptive to criticism. Many of them will be published. If I’d thought about this, I would have figured out that people who pay to go on writing workshops are generally those who are serious about writing, and can cope with a workshop environment. I saw some impressive talent there.

If you read this blog often, you’ll know I never fail to bring up the money side of things (come on, we’re all on a quest for financial security). As much as I enjoy them, it’s a knotty decision whether or not to go to an event. BL pay my expenses. Most others won’t cover the cost for the likes of me, and so I cannot afford to go at all. Nevertheless, although I don’t spend much, I don’t get any actual money to go there. You have to take this in your stride these days, as it is broadly expected. But, as my wife is now a freelance lawyer and works a lot at the weekend, when I go away neither of us can work (the kid, you see). Much fretting ensues when an invite arrives.

Why do I go then? Simple: events, but especially conventions, remain the single best way to build your profile as a science fiction author. I advise any writer to attend them. One hundred people might read this blog, at BL Live I met 200 people, all of whom had at least a passing interest in my books, and I had an extended period to convince them of my merits as a human being. Blog writing cannot compare, at least at this point in time. I suppose it’s the contrast between potential audience and an actual audience. You can’t better meeting face to face the people who read your books. As a plus, a bit of praise is the best tonic for sensitive writerly egos, and praise there was in abundance for all those scribblers in attendance.

There’s a second reason: Paying it forward. Many famous SF authors have proselytised this creed, not least among them Ray Bradbury and Robert Heinlein. It works like this: When I was younger, I met a lot of writers at conventions (and interviews, but I was very lucky there). They gave me advice for nothing, and with a smile. Many of them were in exactly the same position I am in now. Now I’m a writer, it is my turn to do the same for the next generation of writers. Those who advised me received nothing but thanks, I will receive the same for helping you, but we are all enriched for it. If a writer tells you something useful, and you get published, pay it forward. Because of this wealth of easily accessible and gladly shared knowledge, I also can’t recommend conventions enough to those of you who want to write.

I’m sure others will write about the feverish excitement of Pitch Factor, or the Kafka-esque Warhammer panel quiz Christian Dunn concocted and in which I took part, or about the beautiful new book editions available for sale, and all the announcements and insights given. I’ll leave it at these personal thoughts, and end on this: Unlike earlier trips to suchlike, I went to bed at a respectable hour, and relatively sober. In a drinking culture, wisdom can be defined thusly: saying no to that last drink. Life runs smoother without a hangover.