Friday, 31 October 2008

Whitby welcomes Gothic guests

If you have a thing for Dracula (or vampires in general), or you're what might be termed as a Goth, or you're even just a fan of the North Yorkshire fishing town of Whitby, you might be interested to know that this weekend is Whitby Gothic Weekend.

Having visited Whitby a couple of times myself, I know how much Dracula-themed stuff is available there on a daily basis and the place is certainly something of a Mecca for fans of Bram Stoker's eponymous blood-sucker, so God-only-knows what it's like at the feast of Halloween.

The reason I mention this event in particular, however, is because two-thirds of Human Nature (my latest Pax Britannia adventure, out in December) is set in and around Whitby. The majority of places mentioned in the book also exist in real life, so if you can't get there this weekend, why not wait until the book's out and then check out the locations mentioned in the novel? And yes, there are a couple of nods to Stoker's Dracula, of course.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Where the magic happens

This week I travelled up to Oxford to meet with the guys at Abaddon Books to talk about all things Pax Britannian. I had a good chat with editor Jon Oliver during which we discussed the next Ulysses Quicksilver novella, and story arcs for the next (censored!) books in the series. We also met with head honcho Jason Kingsley and talked about a possible Pax Britannia (censored!)! It was an inspiring conversation indeed.

Where the magic happens

While I was in Oxford I also took the opportunity to do a little research for the story I'm going to be writing next - yes, I do research my books, you know - which took me to the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. If you've not been, you really should. It's an incredible building with some interesting exhibits, including one all about the Oxford Dodo. And even better than that, it is attached to the Pitt Rivers Museum (although that part closed until 2009 for refurbishment, as I only discovered when I got there on the day).

The main exhibition hall of the OUMNH, with a statue of the Prince Consort in view, along with the skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

What is Myrrh Anyway? hits the streets

As any regular reader of this blog will know, I have been busy promoting What is Myrrh Anyway? of late, but I'm not the only one.

I have to say a huge thank you to Mat Cooper for doing the same thing in and around Sheffield. On Monday morning he visited bookshops, libraries and art galleries asking staff if they would take some of the Moo MiniCards I have had made up to promote the book.

I hear that the staff of the Orchard Square branch of Waterstone's in Sheffield were particularly helpful. When Mat whipped out a copy of the book the kind gentleman on duty recognised it as recent stock, took a bundle of the cards and went to the actual area where the book was on sale to distribute the cards where readers would be looking.

So, thanks again to Mat and if anyone else would like to do the same thing in and around their area, drop me a line via this blog. And you will receive a gift in kind for your efforts. I am a great believer in the adage 'If you scratch my back...'

Here's Mat holding some of my MiniCards and his signed copy of What is Myrrh Anyway?

Warhammer 40K Giveaway!

Fans of Warhammer 40,000 fiction might be interested to know that the website Fantasy Book Critic is giving away signed copies of Dan Abnett's latest blockbuster Titanicus, and Graham McNeill's The Killing Ground, the fourth novel to feature Ultramarine captain Uriel Ventris.

Titanicus by Dan Abnett

When the vital forge world of Orestes comes under attack by a legion of Chaos Titans, the planet is forced to appeal for help. Titan Legio Invicta, although fresh from combat and in desperate need of refit and repair, responds, committing its own force of war engines to the battle. As the god-machines stride to war, the world trembles, for the devastation they unleash could destroy the very world they have pledged to save.Savage Titan action on an apocalyptic scale and dark political intrigue meet head-on in this Warhammer 40,000 epic…

The Killing Ground by Graham McNeill

Having escaped from the Eye of Terror, Uriel Ventris and Pasanius now face an epic journey through a hostile universe in their quest to get home to Ultramar to safety and redemption. “The Killing Ground” picks up where "Dead Sky, Black Sun" leaves off…

To give yourself a chance of winning these two highly collectible items, click here.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

My Myrrh Moo Minicards

Having been hard at work on a novel for the last six weeks, I'm now taking some time to work at the other side of the writing business, as it were - that of self-promotion. Such is the lot of a freelancer; you have to learn to blow your own trumpet pretty fast if you don't want your latest publication to sink without trace among the other 399 new books published in Britain alone every day! Hence the renewed vigorous blogging and the latest promotional item I've had made up - Moo MiniCards, to help promote What is Myrrh Anyway?

Moo MiniCards are great. They come printed with an image on one side and six lines of text on the other. In my case, that's enough space to entice someone to look at the card with an intriguing question on one side along with the details of my latest book on the other. I'm going to make sure I've got a box of my minicards with me everywhere I go, so that I can hassle coffee shops, bookshops, and perhaps even libraries, to see if they wouldn't mind me leaving a handful around the place, on tables, by the till, wherever.

So, keep an eye out and you might just be able to snap one up for yourself.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Ben Crystal and Shakespeare on Toast

Ben Crystal is an actor and a writer with a thing for Shakespeare. Now I know that probably doesn't narrow it down very much, but he's also the author of Shakespeare on Toast, which is published by Icon Books.

His reason for writing it? In his own words: "I wrote Shakespeare on Toast because I became aware of too many people who think Shakespeare is dull, or boring, or inaccessible, and who don’t want to read books that ‘bluff’ your way into the plays. Toast doesn’t do that. It makes Shakespeare's writing accessible, without dumbing it all down."

You can find out more about the book and Ben himself at the book's website. You can also hear (and see) Ben talk about Shakespeare on Toast at Meet the Author. And currently over at The Book Depository you can find out what he rates as his top ten books.

So why not take a look and find out more for yourself?

Monday, 13 October 2008

21 and counting...

Back in 1992 I was commissioned to write my first book, a Fighting Fantasy adventure gamebook entitled Spellbreaker. Last week I finished writing my twenty-first book, a steampunk science fiction horror thriller called Human Nature.

In between I have written everything from Sonic the Hedgehog and Doctor Who books for children to factual books for adults. The entire list reads something like this.

1. Spellbreaker (1993)
2. Knights of Doom (1994)
3. Curse of the Mummy (1995)
4. Theme Park Panic (1995)
5. Stormin' Sonic (1996)
6. Go Gos Are Go Go! (1997)
7. The Dead and the Damned (2002)
8. Crusade for Armageddon (2003)
9. Magestorm (2004)
10. Iron Hands (2004)
11. Necromancer (2005)
12. Conquest of Armageddon (2005)
13. Bloodbones (2006)
14. Unnatural History (2007)
15. Howl of the Werewolf (2007)
16. Leviathan Rising (2008)
17. The Horror of Howling Hill (2008)
18. Match Wits with the Kids: A Little Learning for All the Family (2008)
19. Go, Go Crazy For Those Bones (2008)
20. What is Myrrh Anyway? (2008)
21. Human Nature (2008)

Next up is...

22. Evolution Expects (2009)

... and there are more to come after that.

Expect the unexpected

Having put Human Nature to bed, I'm now preparing to get started on my tenth - yes, tenth! - novel, the fourth of Ulysses Quicksilver's Pax Britannia adventures and the culmination of the first story arc. (Yes, there is a master plan behind the whole thing!)

And it's not only me who's been getting ready for the next alternative history Victorian-esque action thriller; ace Abaddon cover artist Mark Harrison has as well. He's produced four cover roughs for the next book Evolution Expects (out April 2009), featuring three very different characters from the book.
The powers that be at Abaddon Books and myself have mulled over Mark's designs, throwing ideas back and forth, and have settled on one, but I won't say which one just yet. However, I can give you a glimpse of each of the four cover concepts. (Mark's comments spoken by the various characters had me in stitches!)

On top of that, Mark has produced a concept sketch for one of the characters from the book which is phenomenal - good enough to be a cover all by itself, as it stands! And in time I hope to reveal more here, but again, not just yet.

In the meantime, it's certainly going to help me when it comes to having some visual reference when I come to write the relevant sections of the book.

So cheers, Mark!

Important note: Abaddon Books, the Pax Britannia setting, all text and artwork from the novels are © & ™ Rebellion A/S and reproduced here with kind permission.

Coming soon to a dark, gothic, alternative Victorian world near you...

At 11.45pm on Friday night I emailed my editor the completed manuscript of Human Nature - my third Pax Britannia adventure, ninth novel and twenty-first book! And it felt good.

But now it's Monday morning and it's back to work. There's a new novel to start, short stories to plot and pitches to write, but for the time being at least I'm basking in the warm afterglow of knowing that it's another job well done. (It also means that, come December, I will have passed the 1.3 million published words mark!)

Human Nature is out this December from Abaddon Books. You can reserve your copy here.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

What is Myrrh Anyway? Hits the ground running!

What is Myrrh Anyway?, published by Icon Books, is available from all good bookshops now!

I happened to be in the Richmond branch of Waterstone's today, so if you're passing that way tomorrow you'll find a festive message scribbled in the front accompanied by a scrawl that happened to be my signature.

Consider it an early Christmas present from yours truly. ;-)

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Doctor Who Day

Just a quick post to let you know that I will be taking part in Doctor Who Day at Ealing Central Library on Saturday 22 November 2008. So why not come along and join in the fun?

You'll be able to meet a Dalek at 10.00am-12.00pm and 2.00pm-4.00pm, and also at 2.00pm author Nick Griffiths will be talking about his book Dalek I Loved You. There will be games, quizzes, and competitions to take part in, and of course you'll be able to get your copies of The Horror of Howling Hill signed too!

And while we're on the subject of Doctor Who, My Cultural Experience has reviews of all the Decide Your Destiny books, and I have to say that The Horror of Howling Hill doesn't come off too badly at all.

Also on the subject of everyone's favourite Time Lord, the 400th issue of Doctor Who Magazine is all now, complete with an artist's impression of every DW/Lego fan has been waiting for!

What is Myrrh Anyway? Released today!

Yes, it's like all your Christmases have come at once - What is Myrrh Anyway? is finally released today!

It should be in all good bookshops now or, failing that, you can buy it online.

And in case you're new to this blog and wondering where the title of the book comes from, click the video link below.