Month: March 2013

Heroes, & the Chemical Fall Out

So Fall Out Boy are back, and My Chemical Romance are history.

Hurrah, and boo respectively.

Fall Out Boy are a band I’ve liked for a long time, and have the dubious honour of being one whose lyrics I listen to intently. There’s an interesting way with words there that – basically – I envy.

My Chemical Romance are… were… a band with whom I have history; empathy. I’ve never been particularly worried about hiding the fact I’ve long had what (for the sake of brevity) we’ll call “issues”, and I found something in My Chem that I connected with at the exact time I desperately needed it.

It sounds trite and about as far from cool as it’s possible to be (although, let’s face it, “cool” isn’t exactly the first word that comes to mind when you think of me, I know) but they were a band who made a difference to me. And that’s what art is supposed to do, isn’t it? It’s supposed to connect with you. This did.

The thing is, I was broken.

I was broken and I was feeling alone and afraid and then I realised that the music I was listening to, the music I was connecting to on so many levels, was made by people who were broken too. That mattered. It mattered because suddenly, it was okay to be broken. It was okay to be broken and scarred and afraid and flawed, because you could be all these things and you could still make… that.

It helped, and it gave me hope.

So Fall Out Boy are back, and My Chemical Romance are history, and Wentz and Way with all their scars and all their flaws are still two of my heroes.



The Patron Saint of Wishful Thinking

As part of the giveaway I did a few weeks back, I promised to handwrite a copy of a short (very short!) BLOOD AND FEATHERS story for the overall winner. Which I did. And I also promised to put a version of that story up online after a couple of weeks… which I’m doing.

There’s a couple of minor differences between that version and this, but nothing significant.

For those of you who care about this kind of thing, there’s no real continuity. (It’ll make more sense, admittedly, if you’ve read the book, but it’s not mission critical!) In terms of when it fits, it’s fairly safe to assume that it takes place before the main events of BLOOD AND FEATHERS, but beyond that, you’re on your own…





“It’s a bit shit, isn’t it?”

Vin and Mallory stood back and looked at the lump of metal on the bench; Vin critically, Mallory with vague dissatisfaction.

“‘Shit‘ is a slightly stronger word than I’d use…” Mallory said with a frown.

Vin just shook his head. “Go on. Say it. You know I’m right.”

“Fine. It’s shit. Happy now?”

“Ecstatic.” Stepping forward, Vin poked at the offending item – yelping as it burned his fingertip. Mallory smirked.

“Might still be hot.”

It was Mallory’s latest thing, the metal-working. He was running low on funds (again) and had decided it was probably time to find some form of gainful employment. Again.


World Book Day

As you’ll doubtless be aware, today is World Book Day.

A whole day, all about books. (You can probably imagine just how happy this concept makes me.) 

To celebrate, here’s a list of a few books I’ve either read & enjoyed recently, or have on my “Readmereadmereadme!” pile, all of which come heartily recommended.

Gillian Flynn: Gone Girl

Will Hill: the Department 19 series (as a bonus, there’s a D19 story available as part of the World Book Day YA app…)

Warren Ellis: Gun Machine

James Smythe: The Explorer

Laura Lam: Pantomime

Kim Curran: Shift

Cressida Cowell: the How to Train Your Dragon series.


And on the “Read me very soon” pile…

Tanya Byrne: Heart Shaped Bruise

Gaie Sebold: Dangerous Gifts

Emma Newman: Between Two Thorns


Any and all of these books will repay your love with their stories, their characters and their worlds.

Happy reading!

(By the way, if you want to keep track of what I’m reading this year, I’m trying to keep a record of every book over on my Pinterest board. It’s a really good idea – which needless to say I’ve nicked from someone else, because it’s far too clever for me…)

REBELLION release date and pre-order

Just a quick one because yes, I’m still supposed to be doing edits, and yes I have started – I promise. I’ve even written a couple of new scenes and done some swearing at Word’s “track changes” function. It’s a thing.

Where was I?

Oh yes.

BLOOD & FEATHERS: REBELLION now has a release date for this summer: July 9th.

As far as I know, this is the same for the UK and the US – although if that changes, I’ll let you know as soon as I do.

There’s also a pre-order page up on Amazon both for the UK & the US (before anyone asks me, yes, the cover they’ve got up there’s a draft!)

So there it is.

July 9th 2013.

The Fallen will rise, the angels will fight… and the rebellion will begin.

On Editors

Yes, I’m supposed to be working on the edits to BLOOD AND FEATHERS: REBELLION.

I’m supposed to be working on them right now. Naturally, this means I feel a sudden urge to blog, to do the ironing, to go and dig the garden… to do anything other than open that file.

It’s not that I don’t like editing – I do. It’s the part of the process where you can not just see the book you wrote getting better; you can feel it. Deep down.

You have perspective, which makes it easier to cut that half-scene which seemed so very important a couple of months ago and now appears to be utterly redundant. You’ve also, y’know, actually finished the whole book – which means you know what it was you were trying to say and what you want the Whole Of The Thing to be about (which isn’t necessarily the case while you’re in the middle of writing it).

You also have that most invaluable of things: an editor’s voice in your ear.

That changes everything.

Mostly, in my case, it makes me want to kick furniture as I wander around feeling stupid for a while because of course he’s right. How could I not see that [this bit] would be much better [there], and that I’ve already said [that] over [here] and my god, whatever was I thinking when I came up with that sentence?!

Editors make books better, no doubt. They also make authors better. They work extremely hard and they have the near-impossible job of making a writer sound like the best version of themselves – without ever losing what it is that makes them “themselves”.

They are the reader’s proxy and first line of defence: making sure that the book that finally gets out; the book that someone spends their money on, is the best it can be – whether it’s literary fiction or chick-lit or a commercial thriller or SFF or a non-fiction book on manhole covers.

They are the writer’s last line of defence: sitting at a desk with a red pen (literally or metaphorically), listening and nodding as their author details exactly how they’re going to do something incredibly stupid, before raising an eyebrow and saying in the most measured of tones: “Are you quite sure you want to do that…?”

Editors are the warm, beating heart of publishing. Readers and writers would both be far worse off without them.

Show them some love.

And yes, I suppose I’d better go and do my edits now. Before my last line of defence throws something heavy at me…