Guest posts

Archer’s Goon

A little while back, SFX Magazine approached me and asked me whether I’d be interested in contributing to their regular “Book Club” feature. It runs at the back of every issue, focusing on a different book each time. And you know me. I like to talk about books. I particularly like to talk about books I like, and why they’re… y’know, awesome.

So of course I said yes, and the first book I’ll be discussing is ARCHER’S GOON by Diana Wynne Jones.

Funnily enough, it turns out this will be the 100th SFX Book Club, and given the current concern about level of representation female authors receive in the SFF world, it’s a wonderful coincidence. 100 feels like a significant number, somehow: and given the context of those two (brilliant) blogposts, it’s nice that the slot goes to a book by an outstanding fantasy writer who happens to be a woman, and whose loss is still felt so keenly by the genre.

The great thing about the Book Club is that it isn’t just me blathering on (after all, I do plenty of that here). So, if you’ve read ARCHER’S GOON, get in touch! You can comment on the book – did you love it / hate it / never read it because… – on the SFX forum, their Facebook page or via their Twitter, or you can always leave me a comment or tweet!

Launching the Rebellion

It’s a strange thing, launching a book. A lovely strange thing – but a strange thing nonetheless. You see, when you launch it, you take it from being something that is yours (and, grudgingly, your editor’s. Grudgingly.) to something that belongs to… everybody.

Well. I say “everybody”. More truthfully it’s “anybody who cares to pick it up”, because let’s be sensible here.

So it’s exciting and nerve-wracking and brilliant and terrifying, and ohgod will I lose the power of speech halfway through my reading and will I fall over and what if someone asks me a question and I don’t know the answer and it’ll be just like that time in Maths in the 2nd Year all over again and…

You get the idea.

It still feels very special to launch a book at Forbidden Planet, because it was where I went to my own very first signing (Neil Gaiman. Predictably.) It feels like my tribal home, in a lot of ways. It means something. And this time, we brought BAKED GOODS!

biscuits

Those beautiful biscuits are the work of Mutherfudger, who not only made them and iced them but decorated every single one of them with the sigils of the angelic choirs.

Michael’s is the orange one (being of a fiery temperament…) while chilly Gabriel is blue. Raphael’s was clean white, lucky Barakiel’s was green – and newcomer Zadkiel’s was an enigmatic silvery grey.

And yes, people did rummage for their favourite angel. I certainly have fewer left of some than I do others – and as an entirely unscientific experiment, that was interesting!

Biscuits aside, I read a short chapter from early on in REBELLION called “Dancing on Pins”, which was Michael and Zadkiel on fine form, and we had a brilliant time talking about angels on book covers (Angel Dude’s Revenge!), the devil and which of them is the biggest badass of all (tricky).

And there was this:

dave badge

I don’t think there’s any doubt whose team my lovely copy-editor David is on, do you? (He’s actually made me my own badge too: I’m now an honorary member and angel-wrangler. YEAH BABY.)

Thank you to everybody who came along, and to MadNad for the biscuits and to Forbidden Planet for having me back. It meant a huge deal and I had a great time.

I ended the evening in a basement bar drinking a cocktail called “Blood of the Scribe” with Kim Curran. It felt appropriate, somehow. It wasn’t the Halfway, granted, but Mallory would have approved…

Apart from the launch, there’s several tabs which need closing, so here we go.

First: there are three signed copies of REBELLION up for grabs on Goodreads. All you need to do is pop over there and enter – nothing complicated! That’s a worldwide giveaway.

Secondly: Sci-Fi Bulletin has the first review of REBELLION (spoiler: they liked it) which makes me very happy indeed.

Thirdly: I’m on something of a blog tour over the next few days, so you may well end up seeing quite a lot of me (as it were). To kick things off, I talk about the use of scent in the BLOOD AND FEATHERS books – again, on Sci-Fi Bulletin, and let slip 5 secrets about the books over on Fantastical Imaginations.

That’s it for now. Other than dealing with those leftover biscuits. And when I say “dealing with”, I naturally mean “eating…”

And just for the hell of it – to say thank you, and because it’s one of my favourite songs (and certainly one of my favourite videos) and because I’d quite like to be even half as cool as Dave Grohl when I grow up – have some Foo Fighters.

The Next Big Thing

It finally got me. I’ve been tagged in the Next Big Thing meme (shout-out to Danie Ware, Paul Kane and Elspeth Cooper, all of whom cornered me and memed me into submission, as has the lovely Janet Edwards).

The idea is to answer a few questions on whatever it is you (the Tag-ee? The Be-tagged?) happen to be working on and then to pass on the tag to five other people. Think of it like Ringu, only with writers crawling through your computer screen.

Lovely mental image, isn’t it? Anyway. Let’s get on with things, shall we?

What is the working title of your next book?

At the moment, I’m working on BLOOD AND FEATHERS: REBELLION. Which is, fairly obviously, the follow-up to BLOOD AND FEATHERS, which came out in August this year.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

REBELLION being a direct sequel to B&F, it largely sprang from the fact that the characters’ stories weren’t finished. Alice wasn’t done, Mallory wasn’t done and Vin, well… Vin’s so scatty he’d probably forget if he was done. I wanted to open up the world – after all, we’ve only really seen hell so far – and to spend some more time with those characters, as well as to bring new ones into play. The angelic war’s been going on forever… and there’s a lot more to it than Alice knew.

What genre does your book fall under?

Like B&F, REBELLION likes to lurk on the borders. It’s closest to urban fantasy (certainly this time around, there’s an actual city…) but there’s elements of fantasy and horror in there too. What it isn’t is paranormal romance. By the way, I’m quite taken with “featherpunk” by way of sub-genre, if anyone feels like running with that…

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Ah. The best / worst question. I have fairly strong views on who’d be ideal for most of the characters… and several of them, I’m not sharing. This is largely because I like the idea that everyone has a slightly different mental image of Alice, or Vin, or Mallory – and that, technically, none of them are wrong. The Mallory you have in your head might look and sound completely different from the one in mine – but that’s the way it should be. It doesn’t make your Mallory any less “Mallory” than mine. So I’ll keep those three to myself, but I will tell you about a couple of others.

Michael, in an ideal and perfectly perfect world, would be Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. It’s funny, because I’d had a very clear mental image of Michael right from the get-go, which is a couple of years back… and the first time I saw a photo of him, he fitted exactly.

A new character who appears in REBELLION is the Earthbound angel, Castor – and him, I’d love to see played by Jamie Parker (who’ll be familiar to anyone who saw the Globe’s Henry V this year.) You should totally follow him on Twitter, by the way – @DickLeFenwick.

Finally, the one that everyone who’s familiar with my own Twitter feed (or, well, me) will have been waiting for. The Archangel Zadkiel – he’s mentioned in BLOOD & FEATHERS, but doesn’t appear in person until REBELLION.

Jeremy Renner.

Happy now?

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

With the Fallen wreaking havoc in the world and on humanity, the Archangel Michael is determined to destroy Lucifer once and for all – whatever the cost – and Alice, Mallory and Vin will be called on to sacrifice more than they ever imagined possible…

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m represented by the gorgeous, talented and lovely Juliet Mushens, and REBELLION will be published by Solaris Books in the summer of 2013.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Ask me that when I’ve finished it… which should hopefully be sometime in the next couple of weeks. If all goes to plan, it’ll have taken a few months. But that’s only a first draft. Getting to a cleaner version will take another month or so of tinkering on my part, and that’s before my fantastic and long-suffering editor Jon gets his hands (and his red pen) on it!

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

The easy answer is that it’s like BLOOD AND FEATHERS. I’ve been told that one’s comparable to SANDMAN SLIM, which I’ve not read yet but certainly will do. The easiest (and probably most useful) comparison to make is with the TV show SUPERNATURAL – we seem to overlap in a lot of ways, much to my initial despair. I’d written most of B&F before I started watching that one, so you can imagine how I felt when I got as far as season 4…

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The first book, in a way. There was that, and there was somewhere I went. I was on holiday with my family – while B&F was on submission to Solaris, funnily enough, and I had no idea whether they were going to want it or not – and we went somewhere that made me start thinking. You can’t take me anywhere…

There was also this, which has (in my head at least) become an informal theme tune for Michael. Because if this doesn’t make you think of angels, nothing will.

Not only is the video utterly extraordinary, if REBELLION had a sound, that would be it.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Someone described BLOOD AND FEATHERS as “post-Bourne angels”. REBELLION has more of them, interacting much more widely with the world, with the Fallen and with one another. Oh, and you might just get to find out what’s in all those notebooks that Mallory keeps knocking around his floor…

So that was relatively painless. (The photo of Renner helped, right?)

I’m going to pass on the meme by tagging five people to write their own post in a week’s time – but as this is me, I’m going slightly off-piste and tagging someone who’s not an author, but an editor. In this case, that’s Jared Shurin of Pornokitsch, and one of the people behind the Pandemonium anthologies.

Also tagged are Jonathan Oliver, Anne Lyle, Niel Bushnell and – because eventually he’ll have no choice but to cave under the sheer weight of tags and play along – Will Hill.

Today the internet…

So, who wants to hear me talking? No, really. On the off-chance you’ve not had enough of my wittering on here, you can actually listen to me waffling on (with the lovely Stephen Aryan trying to steer me vaguely in the direction of sense…) on the first Head Space podcast, which went up yesterday.

I’ve tried to listen to it (to idiot-check it, at least) but I haven’t yet been able to make it all the way through. It’s the sound of my voice, you see – I sound so much posher than I thought, and so terribly, terribly British! From what I could gather on Twitter yesterday, pretty much everyone feels exactly the same when they hear their own voices recorded. Is there anyone out there who sounds like they think they do? Or prefers the sound of their voice the way others hear it? Terrifying.

There have been a couple more reviews of BLOOD AND FEATHERS: one from Elitist Book Reviews, which was very cool and incredibly insightful (if a touch spoilerish in that last paragraph… consider that fair warning if you want to go in pretty cold…) who called it, amusingly, an “anti-Twilight” and said:

This is urban fantasy, colored in plenty of shades of blood-spattered moral gray. Morgan’s angels are vengeful, ferocious, and downright psychotic.

You can read the full review – spoilers and all – here.

A Fantastical Librarian has also posted a review, which is fab – and quite rightly mentions Pye Parr’s gorgeous cover art. I think my favourite part of it was this:

if it were possible to enter a book and explore its universe on your own, we could just walk in there and find it fully formed.

… but again, you can read the full review here.

I’m enormously grateful to everyone who takes the time to review the book, and to put their reviews online – and I’m obviously over the moon that it seems to be getting such an encouraging reaction so far. It means a lot.

In other news, Americans! I believe we are now a “GO” for publication… which means you should be able to find BLOOD AND FEATHERS… well, everywhere. So spread the word and catch an angel. Before they get away.

To celebrate, the Qwillery invited me on to the site to talk a little bit about the book, about writing, research and inspiration. They’re also running a giveaway, so if you want to win a copy, head on over and enter.

And finally, you can also find me talking about life as a debut author over at The Debut Review: including the road to publication and just how the editing process messes with your head…

Actually – one more thing. Very, very finally, thanks to Tor.com for mentioning BLOOD AND FEATHERS in their round-up of July releases.

An Assembly of Angels

It’s been a really exciting (and busy) couple of days, and I can’t quite believe how fast they’ve gone. Or how fast the release date for BLOOD AND FEATHERS is hurtling towards me!

The biggest thing for me, amongst a few big things, is that the first review for the book came in, and I’m absolutely thrilled. My Bookish Ways said:

… expertly weaves fantasy and horror elements into a creepy, exciting, roller coaster ride of a book. Lou Morgan’s angels aren’t warm, fluffy, and halo’d, either. They’re fiercely beautiful warriors, and distinctly “other.” The angel mythos is fascinating and rich, and the author has laid the groundwork for what promises to be an explosive sequel

(You can read the full review here.)

Basically, this brought a huge smile to my face – and not just because it’s a lovely review. It’s because it’s the first sense that other people have read the book: people I don’t know and who don’t know me, and that it’s now out there on its own. Being its own thing and standing by and for itself. It’s terrifying exciting. And it’s wonderful. The fact that the first review I’ve seen is also so positive just adds to the whole thing.

Kristin, who runs My Bookish Ways, was also kind enough to invite me to waffle on about all manner of things from medieval art to Prince Hal to angels via the City of London, and you can read that here.

If you’ve not yet had enough of me waffling (some of you have tremendous stamina, I know) then you can also join in the Friday Five fun on Pornokitsch. Every week, they ask a couple of people to choose 5 of something, and this week it’s… yep, you guessed it: angels.

I particularly love that Castiel has made 2 out of the 3 lists, proving that he really is All The Awesome. It also reminded me of something I found on Etsy yesterday which I reallyreallyreally want:

Knitted Castiel

He may be just about the coolest thing ever. Seriously.

Well.

Until someone knits a Mallory, that is…

Rising

I was going to blog yesterday – really, I was – but I went to see The Dark Knight Rises in the morning, and frankly, by the time I got home, I was ruined. All you’d have had was an essay on why I want to live inside Christopher Nolan’s head. Because I do.

If you haven’t gone to see this yet, do. Like its predecessors, it’s dark and brooding and often chaotic; it’s ambitious and clever and beautifully acted and shot… and as an ending to the trilogy, it manages to pick up, to revisit, themes and ideas from both previous parts. And the final few scenes are perfect. I wouldn’t have wanted it to end any other way.

(It was also fantastic to see Senate House back as a location – like Nolan, I studied English at UCL and I’m very familiar with that particular building and its place in both history and fiction. It did look a *bit* different this time round, though…)

Anyway. You’re going to get plenty of me now. Sorry.

Possibly the most exciting thing is that I’m featured in this month’s (September, issue 225) SFX Magazine as their “New Author”, talking about the Fallen, my influences and why Supernatural is one of my favourite shows. The BLOOD AND FEATHERS launch at Forbidden Planet on the 2nd is also on their monthly calendar, which is basically amazing and has brought me out in a huge grin.

Secondly, this won’t be news so much as More Stuff About Things You Already Know Because I’ve Rattled On About Them Before… but Solaris have now announced the final line-up for MAGIC, which will be out later this year, and includes my story “Bottom Line”. The authors involved are absolutely incredible, and include some of my very favourite writers right now – it’s a huge honour to be included and I’m very excited about the whole project.

I’m also guest-posting over on Book Chick City today as part of their “Author Top Ten” series – in my case, talking about my favourite heroes and anti-heroes. The emphasis is on action (this being me) and we tour the heroics variously of Gladiator, Drive and The Hurt Locker, by way of the ubiquitous Dean Winchester and Roland Deschain. Swing by BCC and feel free to comment, add to or generally mock my list.

Finally, I’ve added a couple more sneaky character updates to the list on the BLOOD AND FEATHERS site – including the first  of the major characters. The remaining ones will be going up over the next couple of days, and there might even be something a bit different on there next week: you never know…

The Girls’ Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse

I mentioned briefly before that I’ve been recruited by the amazing Adele, who runs Un:Bound (when she’s not kicking seven bells out of her kickboxing training buddies or generally taking over the world…) as one of the Apocalypse Girls.

We do cheery things like discuss how to survive an undead apocalypse, how to fight zombies, where you should shelter when the Bomb drops, what weapon goes best with a clutch bag, fashion for Fall / nuclear winter…. all those things you always wanted to know but were afraid to ask.

Well, now you can ask us.

This week on the Guide, it’s movie week. So as well as talking about how to grow your own food (provided it’s not brains), we’re posting some of our favourite apocalypse movies.

I’ve just posted two of mine: The Core and The Day After Tomorrow, so if you head on over to the blog, you can join in and tell us what you think of these particular apocalypses. Apocalypsi. Apocalypso.

Whatever.

Linkpunk

There’s a bunch of odds, sods and general bits & bobs I need to tidy up, I suspect.

Several are here.

The Pandemonium: Stories of the Apocalypse anthology is now available to buy. Go here (UK Kindle edition) or here (US Kindle edition) for all your end-of-the-world needs. There are some seriously awesome stories in there. And there’s mine, too.

Next.

Solaris have put out a press release with a few more details about “Blood & Feathers”, and said some very lovely things indeed. This makes me happy and not a little nervous. But basically, if you’ve ever wondered what Alice in Wonderland would be like if it was set in Hell, I think it’s fair to say you’re in safe hands here. Or possibly insane ones.

Finally (somewhat fittingly) I’ve been recruited by the Apocalypse Girls, so expect to see me popping up on the site every once in a while, along with some fabulous ladies offering their practical tips for surviving mass annihilation. Just because it’s the end of the world, it doesn’t have to mean we can’t handle it with grace, poise, and a truckload of attitude.

Welcome to The Girls Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse.

Over the next few months a collective of experts will be posting their top tips for survival of all kinds of apocalypse, large or small. There will be alternative takes on the best way to tackle zombies, what shoes work in the next ice age, weapons selection, care and maintenance and every thing else the modern girl needs in the end of the world.

Be ready for Zombies, Werewolves, Hell literally freezing over, Skynet and the worst hair day ever.

Lock and Load ladies, the end of the world is coming.

Guest blogging at Floor to Ceiling Books

My good friend (and cohort in Genre for Japan earlier this year!) Amanda Rutter, who runs the Floor to Ceiling Books site, has taken a well-earned holiday. As I type, I think she’s clearing the shelves of all the merchandise at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and hurling herself merrily round a terrifying assortment of rollercoasters and park rides in the USA.

In the meantime, she’s invited a bunch of people to guest-post on her blog – and one of them is me! You can read my Harry Potter-flavoured post on Slytherin’s role in the Harry Potter saga here.

(And if you’re wondering, the photo accompanying the article was taken at some point over the Eastercon weekend this year: those two fine gentlemen sitting on the sofa are Adam Christopher in the red, and Gareth L. Powell in the blue. If you bump into them at a convention, make sure you say hello – they’re both absolutely lovely).

And it’s well worth checking back at Amanda’s blog over the next few weeks, too: just because she’s away, it doesn’t mean things will be quiet. There are some brilliant guest bloggers coming up…