Shiny

Rebellion and the weaver

BFS_Logo_red_SMALLI had a pretty awesome piece of news last week: BLOOD AND FEATHERS: REBELLION has been shortlisted for this year’s British Fantasy Awards, in the “Best Fantasy Novel” category.

It’s a fantastic shortlist (you can see the other nominees here, plus the shortlists for all the other BFA categories) and I’m absolutely thrilled to be a part of it… and making it even lovelier is the fact that the first B&F book, BLOOD AND FEATHERS, was nominated in the same category last year. Thank you so, so much to everyone who voted it onto the shortlist – it means an enormous amount.

Other good news comes in the form of a short story: I’m delighted to announce that my story, “Death and the Weaver” will appear in Alchemy Press‘s URBAN MYTHIC 2 anthology, launching later this year. My contribution is set in an area I know very well and have a huge amount of affection for: Brittany in northern France, and is the story of what happens to a woman who moves back to the small town where she spent her summers growing up.

The idea behind the anthology (which like its predecessor, the original URBAN MYTHIC, has a great line-up) is to reinterpret myths and legends in a modern way – and there’s no shortage of myths in Brittany. I’ll talk a bit more about the story and this particular myth in “Death and the Weaver” closer to release – which should be at FantasyCon in September.

Another thank you too, to everyone who commented on the SLEEPLESS cover: I’m so pleased you like it as much as I do!

 

 

 

 

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It’s Aaaalive!

I’ve been away. I know. There was Nine Worlds (which was brilliant, by the way, and if you weren’t there, why weren’t you?) and then I went on holiday and then I Just. Needed. A. Break. Which is fine. Because – let’s face it – I do go on a fair bit.

So. Hello. Still alive.

And what is it, you might ask, that has roused me from my rubbishness? Is it some fantastic piece of news?

Well, no.

It’s this.

 

The trailer for I, Frankenstein.

Right.

I’m conflicted.

There’s no two ways about this. I just don’t know what to feel.

We’ll get the obvious bit out of the way. I adore Aaron Eckhart. I really, really do. I love him in basically everything (even The Core. Yes. Especially The Core. My love of terrible disaster movies knows no bounds, so hush now). He also happens to be in Possession, which is one of my very favourite films, and an adaptation of one of my very favourite books – so we’re going into this with a hell of a lot of Eckhart-shaped credit.

I do also love my monsters: be they Dracula, mummies or Frankenstein’s monster himself. So, again, lots of credit going in.

On top of that, there’s what look to be a few strong fight scenes going by this trailer (punch-up in a cathedral! Lots of fire! Eckhart carrying some really shiny looking weapons! Also: flying mid-air punch. I love a deeply impractical mid-air punch)  and it could be fun…

But.

I cannot possibly be the only person looking at this and thinking: “Oh. Van Helsing.” Because, boy, did we all get burned by that one.

I want to like it: I really do. But… are those angels? Not that I’m a hard sell on angels and fighting and stuff because *cough*, but… seriously?

I mean… seriously?

So there you go. Conflicted.

Still. Monsters. Plus Aaron Eckhart. How can that be a bad thing?

 

(Yes. This entire post was, basically, just an excuse to talk about Aaron Eckhart. My blog. My rules. Innit?)

As you were, chaps. As you were.

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.

Goody Two-Shoes

shoes

Walk a mile in their shoes.

If the shoe fits.

Dead men’s shoes.

… We have a bit of a thing about shoes and identity, culturally speaking, don’t we?

 

That’s two pairs of my shoes in the photo. One is a vertiginous pair of gold heels which have shed so much glitter about the house as I’ve been breaking them in that it looks like Tinkerbell detonated in a fit of rage.

The other is one of my (many) pairs of Converse, all of which have been through the wars a little because they get worn so much. You should see the green ones. Talk about scruffy.

Anyway. I am fortunate enough to live in a time and a place where I can choose either of these pairs of shoes. No-one will bat an eyelid if I wear the heels (although they may have to catch me when I inevitably fall over) and neither will anyone so much as flinch if I wear the trainers. This is a wonderful thing, and a freedom that many women still don’t have. I’m also fortunate enough to be in a position to own several pairs of completely impractical shoes – again, something that we take for granted.

I am – theoretically, at least – a grown up. I used to wear heels to work back in The Dark Days When I Was Corporate (we do not speak of those times). I own dresses. I own a woman’s tux jacket, a proper white shirt and a pair of grown-up black trousers. So why do I feel like a fraud in those gold shoes? Why do I feel like a kid who’s been rummaging around somebody else’s wardrobe?

It may be that I clomp around like an ostrich on drugs in them. Possibly. Long gone are the days when I could run for a bus in my heels (mind you, long gone also are the days of pulling my hair out trying to produce statistical reports for clients and the time that I got pushed off the platform of a Routemaster bus into traffic in Hackney. Oddly, I don’t actually think I was wearing heels on that particular day. That would’ve explained a lot…). Now, breaking these shoes in, I’ve been stalking about the kitchen looking like nothing so much as a sleepwalking camel. These things add to the comedy value of me in heels, but I carry the comedy with me wherever I go, alas.

So if it’s not that, what is it?

I had been planning to wear the gold shoes to the book launch tomorrow night… but quite apart from the looming spectre of tripping over my own feet in them and faceplanting in a cloud of fairy-ash, I decided against it. I put them on and suddenly I don’t feel like me any more – particularly not when they’re paired with a dress. I feel like not only am I a kid dressing up in someone else’s clothes, I’m a kid dressing up in someone else’s clothes who’s about to get found out.

I guess I’m not a heels kind of girl. I know they’re out there: I went to university with one, and my agent Juliet is another. They can work the heels.

In my case, the heels work me. And by “work”, I mean it very much in the East End, Kray Brothers, crowbar sense of the word.

My blue Converse squeak when I walk. One of the laces keeps untying itself, meaning I have to double-knot it like a demented toddler’s shoes. The tongues always scrunch themselves sideways and won’t lie flat. They are not elegant or graceful, and they make my already generously-sized feet look enormous. But I feel like myself in them. Awkward and dishevelled and squeaky and prone to putting my foot in it… but at least I don’t have to worry about being found out.

You only have to look at my shoes to know who I am.

Guess which ones I’ll be wearing tomorrow.

Bite the Rebellion

If you’re coming to the Blood and Feathers: Rebellion launch at Forbidden Planet this Thursday, we’ve got an extra-special treat in store for you.

Now, as well as being able to pick up a copy of the book ahead of its official publication date, you’ll also be able to show your allegiance to the angelic choir of your choice thanks to the fantastic Mutherfudger – codename @Madnad – who will be providing us with some of her amazing baked goods.

Exactly what the Mother of Cookies has in mind is a surprise for now – and I’m far too scared of her to let it slip… but come along on Thursday evening and find out.

The angels are coming. And they’re bringing biscuits.

The Lists

So, I had a bit of an odd evening yesterday. Mainly because this happened.

Screen Shot 2013-06-18 at 11.53.27

 

The British Fantasy Society announced the shortlists for their annual awards (the British Fantasy Awards). And I was delighted to find I’ve been included in the list for the Sydney J. Bounds Award, given to a newcomer every year [insert debate about all possible meanings of the word “best” here].

I was even more delighted to see the other names on that list – partly because there are some wonderful books on there, and partly because I’m lucky enough to be able to call a good few of the authors of them friends – particularly Kim Curran, Anne Lyle and Helen Marshall. All three of them are doing very different things – something which extends to the rest of the shortlist, incidentally – but I’d be more than happy for any of them to win. (Of course I won’t win. Don’t be so silly.)

The point is that this is an exciting shortlist. I can’t claim to have read all the books on it – although I certainly will try to – but of the ones I have read, there’s an enormous amount of scope. There’s YA in there (and not crossover YA, either: solid, properly-teenage YA) and there’s historical fiction and there’s SF and there’s literary. And there’s urban fantasy peppered with angels and a fair amount of swearing. Cough. Moving on…

It’s a shortlist I’m immensely proud and honoured to be part of, because it’s completely unpredictable and reflects what’s emerging from writers working in genre right now.

That made me happy.

And then there was this.

Screen Shot 2013-06-18 at 11.53.42

 

Which – I’ll be honest – gave me a funny ringing sort of sound in both ears and made me need a bit of a sit down. It was a shock, let’s put it that way, and I still don’t quite have the words for how I feel. The closest I can get is a sort of “Snnnngggzzztzttp” noise, followed by a high-pitched giggle and needing to sit down again.

I cannot even begin to emphasise how much I won’t win this (because come on. Seriously.) but I will enjoy seeing someone else win it (and I know who I’d like it to be…) because it’s a fantastic party to be invited to.

It’s also a lovely thing to be able to say that the Solaris Books “Magic” Anthology is also on the shortlist for best anthology (and it’s a very tough category this year) and there are appearances by friends throughout the nominations. All in all, it’s an exciting list – and I can’t wait to see what happens.

I should also point out that Blood and Feathers being there at all has everything to do with the members of both the BFS & FantasyCon, who nominated for the shortlists. And it also has to do with the tremendous trust and hard work of my editor, Jon Oliver, and everyone at Solaris. So thank you all. You’ve rendered me speechless(ish) and that’s pretty damn hard to do.

Take it away, Dean…

 

The Ocean at the End of the Queue

OceanNeil Gaiman has long been one of my favourite authors. In a funny way, he’ll be – in my mind, at least – forever entwined with my actually starting to write seriously again (well. I say “seriously”. I do very few things seriously, but you get my drift).

It was after a Neil Gaiman signing somewhere around 2007 that I wrote “The Cloth of Heaven” – the first proper short story I’d ever done, and the first thing of mine that was published.

And when I say “after a signing”, I mean it fairly literally. I woke up at 7am the next day with the whole story in my head and wrote it longhand, while lying on the first floor landing of our house in London.

It was at that same signing that I really came to understand the real purpose of queuing for an event. I’d been to plenty of gigs which involved queueing (including a Rammstein show in Berlin where the queue wasn’t so much a queue as a random collection of picnics. I’m telling you, that was a queue.) but this was different. I’d got there hours early and was one of the first six or seven people there.

It was cold. It rained. We huddled in the back doorway of Forbidden Planet and talked – at length – about Sandman and about “Neverwhere” and about… all things Neil. At one point, someone appeared from inside the shop and said: “Neil thinks you’re all entirely mad, waiting so long to see him – and he’d like to know if you want a cup of tea?”

And that was the day Neil Gaiman sent me tea. And when I finally got to the front of the queue, I did what I have done a couple of times now and lost the ability to speak (I know. Me. Quiet. Imagine!) and beamed like a lunatic and that was that. He was  lovely; I was daft. So it goes.

It was that queue, though, which meant I was undaunted by the prospect of the lengthy wait after last Friday’s event, run by Toppings & Co of Bath, which saw the very same Neil Gaiman talk for a little while about his new (and apparently entirely unexpected) novel, “The Ocean At The End Of The Lane“, read a little and sign a lot. A LOT.

Three hours after we started queueing, we were still queueing. But more importantly, three afters after he started signing and talking to people and smiling and being lovely… he was still doing it. And this was after pre-signing a teetering pile of books for people who couldn’t wait as long as we did. And on top of a full day of promotional work. And after it, both he and the team from Headline were staring down the barrel of a journey back to London before they could finally get to bed. It’s beyond admirable.

I say “we” there, when I talk about the queue because this time, I had a friend for company. Having met up with several people for drinks beforehand, including Cav Scott, Gav Pugh, Jonathan Howard, Desiree Fischer and Emma Newman, by midnight all but Cav and myself had fallen by the wayside: lured by the siren songs of their spouses or the last train home. In the meantime, Cav and I had come up with what can only be described as a mild hysteria-induced plan.

X-MEN: THE MUSICAL.

Heavy on effects, and a tad light on anything you’d call “plot”, it’ll involve a finale set in ancient Rome, with elephants, Spartans and Wolverine running beneath waves of red silk, shredding them with his claws. Oh, and Magneto with jazz hands. Yes. I’m telling you, it’s got “hit” written all over it. Well. Something that sounds a bit like “hit”, anyway.

And all the while we were mucking around, Neil Gaiman was still signing. And signing. And smiling. And signing.

He even smiled when I asked him to dedicate my book in the most baffling manner imaginable, because I’d had time to think about it.

“The Ocean At The End Of The Lane” is partly about childhood and looking back at it, and I wanted to be able to pass the book on. My son’s not nearly old enough for it – nor will he be for quite some time, and this gave me an idea. I didn’t want to just hand him a copy of it when he’s older – a book by one of my favourite authors, and one he already loves (having heard plenty of his stories from the time he was in a cot…). I wanted it to feel like a thing. Like it was special. And now, thanks to a still-smiling but no doubt exhausted author, it will be, because the book is dedicated not to me, and not to my little boy – but to both of us, to me – and then “and after her” to him. It feels like passing something on. Like the book is more than a book. Like it’s alive. Like it’s a life.

And that’s something worth queueing for.

That, and X-Men: The Musical.

 

BLOOD AND FEATHERS: REBELLION cover

REBELLION final cover

Once again, I’ve got the amazing talent of Pye Parr to thank for this, as well as the team at Solaris Books. It perfectly matches the feel of the book, and (for once) I’m kind of lost for words.

I. LOVE. IT.

(And I hope you do too…)

You can pre-order the book from Amazon (UK) (US), BN.comWaterstones and, of course, your local bookshop.

The angels are back…

You Know His Name…?

Because it’s Tuesday and (here, at least) it’s raining – and because I know how much you enjoyed the last Hawkeye mash-up video… have another one.

That Barton certainly gets around, doesn’t he?

 

Featherbomb

What’s Pye Parr up to now…?

featherbomb2

 

By the way, if you’re interested in reading a bit more about how Pye works, and how the first BLOOD AND FEATHERS cover evolved, there’s a really detailed interview with him over on the Shewolf reads site, including his mock-ups for concepts which didn’t quite make the cut…