Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Pax Britannia: Dark Side - the first review!

After putting out my call to reviewers everywhere yesterday, today I received notification of the first review of my latest Pax Britannia novel Dark Side, and very pleased with it I was too...

Dark Side is the latest, and certainly the most spectacular, of Jonathan Green's Ulysses Quicksilver series.

Quicksilver, in case you've missed the previous few books in the series, is the silver-tongued gentleman-adventurer whose plan is always to "make it up as he goes along". In Dark Side, this takes him to strange new places - in both geographical and narrative terms...

Perhaps the biggest journey is the actual structure of Dark Side, which goes into uncharted territory for the series. Whereas the previous books were essentially one-offs (although one-offs that rewarded loyal readers), Dark Side builds out of the existing Pax Britannia mythos. Although reading the short story "Vanishing Point" isn't absolutely necessary to understanding Dark Side, it certainly gives you a running start. And, on the other end of the book, Dark Side is the first in the series to actually end with a proper, "ack!-when-is-the-next-book-out?!" cliffhanger.

Dark Side is the biggest book in the series in all respects. By bringing in characters and conflicts from earlier books (some for the last time), Green elevates this from a snappy, pocket-sized adventure into the start of something properly epic. Even bringing Emilia back as the object of flirtation helps make this book more serious and less ephemeral than those that came before it. Without giving away any spoilers, the reader feels like the cozy universe of Pax Britannia is truly, irreversibly changing.

Good stuff, eh?

You can read the rest of Jared's review over at his Pornokitsch website. And if you're inspired to buy the book yourself after reading his review, you can do so here.

Scottish Miscellany in the Sunday Post

Last Sunday, my new book Scottish Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Scotland the Brave was featured in the Scottish Sunday newspaper the Sunday Post. I like the approach the reporter took to the piece (even though it wasn't what I had originally intended), I just hope the Scottish book-buying public take it with the same good humour.

Monday, 29 November 2010

M is for Monster, but I is for Incubus

The reviews for the horror short story anthology M is for Monster are starting to trickle in now, and you'll find a very comprehensive one here, on Amazon.

This is the first time I have read a review of the book that specifically mentions my short story Incubus in any detail.

This being a welcome-all-ages kinda blog, I'm a like embarrassed to post the whole review here. If you're over 18 you can read it for yourself here, but I did appreciate this bit in particular:

What gradually transpires is a powerfully unnerving tale of horror, with many unspoken questions left unanswered, creating an altogether more powerful tale. Certainly one of the most atmospheric and unsettling tales in the anthology - and for that, possibly one of the best additions.

You can buy M is for Monster direct from Yours Truly. Just drop me a line at info@jonathangreenauthor.com and we'll take it from there.

Until next time...

Match Wits with the Kids - new review

I was delighted to stumble across this review of Match Wits with the Kids on the Internet the other day. It's written by a Maths specialist and, as a result, I found what the reviewer had to say especially pleasing.

This book is subtitled “a little learning for all the family” which is an incredible understatement. This book is just packed with interesting information about a variety of subjects - not just Mathematics but also English, Science, History, Geography, MFL, Classics - and even some tests to keep the reader on their toes.

In just 50 pages of mathematics the reader is transported along a journey from numbers through tables, negatives, indices, fractions, decimals, percentages, Fibonacci, algebra, angles, symmetry, triangles, pythagoras, quadrilaterals, polygons, circles, 3D shapes, co-ordinates, statistics and finally probability. The style is gripping, fun and very informative. It is hard to put down - but also manages to be a book that a minutes reading leaves the reader bursting with new facts and information.

This is a wonderful reference book for all the family - perhaps especially useful for parents worried their children know more than they do! I can’t judge the other subjects (though I’m hooked and mesmerised by the other chapters) but mathematically I can find no fault - the material would cover most of the content of the Key Stage Three syllabus. This is an excellent book - one that no family should be without.

To read the review at the Association of Teachers of Mathematics website, click here.

And while we're at it there's also this one at Suite101.com.

Experienced teacher and author Jonathon Green has written the perfect companion for parents who wish to brush up on their general knowledge. Match Wits with the Kids (Icon, 2008) contains 392 pages of charts, maps, formulae, diagrams, tables, information and practice tests to revise the important facts across nine subject areas...

In the years between attending school and parenting a school-aged child many facts and details well-known during school years go astray. Now is the perfect time to brush up on some basic general knowledge, if for no other reason than to assist children with their homework and improve results at the next trivia night or general knowledge quiz show.

Request for reviewers

Both The Ulysses Quicksilver Omnibus (Vol.1) and Pax Britannia: Dark Side are selling well at the moment (very well, in fact) so how those of you who've already read these awesome tomes post some reviews on Amazon (or whatever your book site of choice happens to be)?

If you do, you will earn my eternal gratitude. (Which is no small thing if the long-anticipated Zombiepocalypse* finally gets here.) And please let me know - either via this blog or by emailing me at info@jonathangreenauthor.com.


* That's a copyrighted term, by the way, copyright Jonathan Green 2010 - just now.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Ultramarines - the movie!

So, this morning, I was fortunate enough to be one of a select few to be invited to a proper cinema screening of the new Ultramarines movie. Investors, fans and hobbyists, piled into the Odeon Cinema on Shaftesbury Avenue and, after an introduction by producer Bob Thompson, got to enjoy 75 minutes of pure 40K entertainment. I tagged along with m'colleague James Swallow, who is always good company, and also got to say "Hi!" to Mark and Liz of My Favourite Books.

But what of the movie itself? That's what you're all dying to know, isn't it? Well, first off, Codex Pictures have succeeded in making a Warhammer 40K movie, which in and of itself is no mean feat. It's been a labour of love for those involved, as much as anything else, and it shows.

To put it simply Ultramarines does exactly what it says on the tin. There are space marines - more than mortal, they are steel and they are doom - there's an alien world and a gothic Imperial shrine, there's a strike cruiser, a thunderhawk, a land speeder... and there's Chaos.

I would love to got into more details, but it would undoubtedly spoil the movie for anyone yet to see it for themselves. And if you've ever been even slightly curious about Warhammer 40K then you really should see it. Suffice to say the devil (or should that be the 'daemon'?) is in the detail. From words of holy scripture engraved onto bolter shells, to "how do you apply purity seals exactly?", to the etchings of Chaplain Karnak's shull-helm, to the image of the stained glass window in the reliquary on board the Ultramarines' strike cruiser, it's all there.

Dan Abnett's voice is as distinctive throughout the movie as the voices of actors Terence Stamp, Sean Pertwee, John Hurt et al who speak his words. Dan's even managed to get a few (intentionally) humorous lines in there. One in particular (regarding a bolter) raised a chuckle from the whole audience this morning.

It felt like a real privilege to see the movie on the big screen but it was also a joy to chat with Bob Thompson and Vanessa Chapman of Codex Pictures afterwards. These are people who are passionate about what they do and about doing justice to the IP. It's just a shame Codex Pictures weren't around when the made the original Judge Dredd movie. They have managed to make a film that doesn't mess with, or dumb down, the Warhammer 40K IP, and one that can be enjoyed by a 25 year hobby veteran and a total novice alike.

If you've already ordered the special edition collector's DVD you're in for a treat. If you haven't you can order it here, right now. And do order it, because if Ultramarines is a hit us fans might not have to wait quite so long for another 40K movie to come along...

"We march for Macragge!"
"And we shall know no fear!"

To finish, as they say, with a joke... The auditorium that was hosting the exclusive screening was next to the loos. So, reading the signs above the doors from left to right we had, 'Ladies', 'Gents' and 'Ultramarines'. Well, it made Jim and I chuckle.

Friday, 26 November 2010

A NaNoWriMo update

So, on November 1 I signed up to National Novel Writing Month (a.k.a. NaNoWriMo), with the intention of spurring myself on to meet a challenging deadline. But then for one reason or another I didn't actual start writing until November 8. And yet, as of today I've reached the magic 50,000 word target, a few days early. But what does this really mean?

It means very little, as far as I can tell. I may have reached 50,000 words plus, but I'm only one third of the way through my novel and of those 50,000 words, by the time I've re-written, edited and polished it, it will be nearer 30,000 words.

I realise that NaNoWriMo is great fun for a great number of people and probably highly motivating for others. Maybe some even end up with something of publishable worth at the end of the experience. But for a professional (and I use the term as loosely as possible) writer like myself, it's been more of a millstone around my neck and an pretty useless target-setter. I won't be bothering to do it again.

I'll keep updating my progress until the end of the month but don't expect me to plaster my blog with banners saying 'NaNoWriMo Winner' or anything.

So, it's time to get back to work. There's the next chapter of Anno Frankenstein to get written, and my Spring-Heeled Jack story to continue, as well as numerous proposals for other books which I'll have to write whether it's NaNoWriMo or not.

Until next time...

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Scottish Miscellany reaches British shores at last

They've been a long time coming, but then it is a long way across the North Atlantic from New York to Ealing. Nonetheless I'm delighted to have my new hardback in my hands at last.

Pax Britannia - review round up

A couple more reviews of my Pax Britannia books coming your way this afternoon...

Okay, this book was one of the goofiest I have read in a long while and I really liked it. It was over the top, silly steampunk that didn't take itself seriously and you shouldn't either. The names of the characters are even tongue in cheek, which some readers who have reviewed the book don't seem to get. Also, people were complaining that the science part of the plot was bad - it wasn't supposed to be great science fiction. It is supposed to be a lighthearted fun read. No, this isn't a classic. No, this isn't superb fiction. It is a lighthearted and comic tongue in cheek look at steampunk and the genre.

Leviathan Rising, above everything else, is fun. Deliriously so. Every page is infected with a wonderful sense of joy. Don't get me wrong, I love my "worthy" genre fiction - gloomy, dirty, big heavy themes, existential angst & questions of identity - but after reading so-bloody-many in a row, this is the perfect antidote. Leviathan Rising is something different, yet no less special. This is the sort of book that makes me giddy and ten years old again, my mind filled with impossible adventures and wild daydreams.

And, to give Mr Green credit, creating this sort of work is a rare and wonderful talent. Being over-the-top is commonplace, but being genuinely entertaining is rare - the difference between telling a dirty joke and being Bill Hicks. Leviathan Rising, the author deftly combines punchy dialogue with lurid description; painting a wonderful, exotic world and then populating it with sharp heroes, sinister villains and horrendous beasties. This is pure, unadulterated pulp - the sort of fiction that made fiction fun to begin with.

Overall this is a very good and easy read the main novel ticks all the right boxes and has a good mix of humour and some very dark moment indeed. The novella, Conqueror Worm, which is to my mind even better than the main novel, is a swashbuckling adventure with highwaymen, sinister plots and a particularly nasty creature as it's centre piece.

I certainly wouldn't class this series of books as anything more than good "pulp" adventure, but then again they are not trying to set themselves up as anything other than that.

Although each of the books can be read individually there has been a connecting plot building subtly in the background over the whole series, so I would certainly recommend that anyone new to the Ulysses Quicksilver books starts at the beginning with Unnatural History!

It's nice to see Conqueror Worm receiving some love. It was a story I really wanted to tell and loved writing.

You can read more of this review here at Pulp Zen!

Legends of the Space Marines - review round-up

They've been a few nice reviews going up of late concerning the Black Library's Warhammer 40K anthology Legends of the Space Marines. And a few even mention me or my Black Templars short story The Relic in particular. Here are just a couple of them:

**** Four Stars! Author Jonathan Green writes his story from the grand view point of a Dreadnought. I found it to be enlightening to say the least. ****

Kyme's, Scanlon's, Goto's, Swallows's, Green's and Bowden's stories were beyond a question wonderfully composed. Mister Green's plethora of unique story twists were wonderful...

You can buy your own copy of Legends of the Space Marines here, why the forthcoming Victories of the Space Marines (which also contains a story by me) can be pre-ordered here.

National Short Story Week

In case you didn't know, it's National Short Story Week at the moment. (Don't worry if you didn't know, it is the first one after all.)

I love short stories. I enjoy reading them and I particularly enjoy writing them. In fact, I've had somewhere in the region of 50 odd published over the last 15 years. As a literary form they allow you to try something new that you maybe couldn't (or wouldn't want to) sustain for the length of a novel, or even a novella.

For example, I've written stories in the third person present tense, I've told stories where events happen out of order, I've written stories that are basically a one-trick pony with a twist in the tail (tale?).

Anyway, the point of this post is to say that as it's the first National Short Story Week, and as it's one calendar month until Christmas, you can download and read one of my short stories for free. It was actually given away by Abaddon Books last Christmas and it first appeared in the back of the Pax Britannia novel Human Nature.

If you've not read it already, follow this link and you can download it for free now.


More Dan the Man

Adelie High has been busy of late, videoing Dan Abnett answering questions sent by fans over the Internet, and then distilling his wisdom down into easily digested chunks. You can sign up to Adelie's YouTube channel here, but in the meantime, here's a round up what you'll be able to see there.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

More Dan

'On Gaunt'...

And 'On Comics'...

Tintin at the Mountains of Madness

If you like Tintin and you like the works of H P Lovecraft, then you're going to love these...

Fighting Fantasy at Sci-Fi Online

Last year, Sci-Fi Online covered the relaunch of Wizard Books' Fighting Fantasy range in detail and said very kind things about my sixth FF adventure, Stormslayer. The reviewer gave the book 9 out of 10.

Earlier this year Sci-Fi Online also reviewed the reissued Bloodbones and the brand new Night of the Necromancer. Bloodbones also scored 9 out of 10, but rather surprisingly NOTN only received 7 out of 10; in other areas its been touted as either my best FF book, or second only to Howl of the Werewolf.

Anyway, you can read all three reviews by clicking on the following relevant link. For Stormslayer, click here. For Bloodbones, click here. And for Night of the Necromancer, click here.

M is for Monster!

Monsters and creatures and horrors, oh my...

With each letter of the alphabet comes a different monster, and with each turn of the page comes a new foray into another author's sinister imaginings. From new twists on traditional favourites to modern glimpses into lesser-known mythology, from time-honoured staples of the horror genre to never-before-seen-beasts of the authors' design, these twenty-six tales take you on a wild roller-coaster tour of wicked conjuration.

A shrieking banshee of the High Moor... a seductive (and deadly) incubus spirit... a ghastly lot of blood-frenzied hogs... a biblical giant whose side of the story has never been told... the sword-slinging God of War himself... a vampire, a demon, a jabberwock, and a whole hellish host of other creatures and fiends known only by a few...

It's all jam-packed inside M IS FOR MONSTER: An Alphabetical Anthology of Abominations. Twenty-six international authors, twenty-six diverse tales. Legend and lore the world 'round have come together to bring this collection to chilling, spine-tingling life.

And the alphabet has never been so frightening.

Here's what people have been saying about the collection already:

I highly recommend buying this book, there is enough monsters within these pages to satisfy even the most jaded horror fan. However you may never want to go out for a curry or stop off at a noodle bar again.

All in all this book is a worthy purchase for anyone who likes short stories. There is a lot to love about this book...

If you'd like to purchase a copy of M is the Monster, signed by yours truly, email me direct at:

Friday, 19 November 2010

Night of the Necromancer strikes again!

There's another review up on Amazon for Night of the Necromancer, for anyone who's interested.

It's very well written and offers an in-depth analysis of the book, so if you're yet to read NOTN and think you still might like to, please take note of the spoilers warnings posted throughout the review.

Anyway, without spoiling anyone's fun, here are the bits that stood out for me:

The adventure is extremely well written... it treats the younger reader as they should be treated - like young, educated adults. Green writes with confidence and with a clear focus on the bigger picture. As for the adventure itself, well, if like me you love Fighting Fantasy to death you still won't have played anything quite like this before...

This adventure is like no other that you have played. It really offers something unique, more so than Green's epic masterpiece 'Howl of the Werewolf'. It is solidly written and has something that a lot of gamebooks lack: a genuinely gripping story...

You're in for an incredible ride where you not only cheat death, but where you benefit from it too! The story is gripping, the way the Fighting Fantasy formula is used is inspiring and the whole experience is unique to the series. If this was the last Fighting Fantasy book ever written, we would be ending on a high.

You can read the whole review for yourself here, and you can pick up your own copy of the book here.

Simon Pegg on what it is to be a nerd

Dan Abnett talks Space Wolves and Prospero Burns

Thursday, 18 November 2010

On Writing...

"A metaphor is like a simile." ~ Author Unknown

"A synonym is a word you use when you can't spell the other one." ~ Baltasar Gracián

"Proofread carefully to see if you any words out." ~ Author Unknown

"I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork." ~ Peter De Vries

"A critic can only review the book he has read, not the one which the writer wrote." ~ Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960

"Be obscure clearly." ~ E.B. White

"Being an author is like being in charge of your own personal insane asylum." ~ Graycie Harmon

"Every writer I know has trouble writing. " ~ Joseph Heller

"The only cure for writer's block is insomnia." ~ Merit Antares

"What no wife of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he's staring out of the window." ~ Burton Rascoe

"Loafing is the most productive part of a writer's life." ~ James Norman Hall

"A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people." ~ Thomas Mann, Essays of Three Decades, 1947

"I do not like to write - I like to have written." ~ Gloria Steinem

"Every author in some way portrays himself in his works, even if it be against his will." ~ Goethe

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The End of the Line launch at Foyles

So, last night I attended the launch of The End of the Line, the new anthology of Underground-inspired horror from Solaris Books, edited by Jonathan Oliver.

"This one goes out to the Phoenix massive!"

I have to confess I was a little late (due to family matters) and only really arrived in time for the Q&A session at the end. But all was not lost, for as the Foyles part of the event wound up, things really got going at the Phoenix Club, right across the road.

It was great to catch up with so many fellow writers, many of whom I am pleased to consider my friends now, as well as the Abaddon/Solaris editorial team, who are really like a kind of family (just don't ask me what kind).

Some of the highlights (or otherwise) of the evening were Jasper Bark and Scott Andrews pointing out that I am now genetically redundant since my son has recently won a prize for his writing (which I something I have failed to do myself so far), Al Ewing wondering what the world of Pax Britannia would be like in the year 1,000,000, David Moore's moustache, struggling to join in a conversation with Rebecca Levene and Jasper Bark because they are both a good head shorter than I am, seeing the expectant Mrs Oliver looking so well on it, meeting David Bradley, editor-in-chief of SFX magazine, again (and him recognising me!), and posing for Holmes and Watson-esque sepia tints with Michael Rathbone, Esq. (who has a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo in the new PB novella Proteus Unbound).

Rathbone and Green - here to save the civilised world!

And here are five things I didn't know this time yesterday and yet I do now.

1) Scott Andrews is a self-confessed Tequila snob.
2) Jared Shurin liked (or was that disliked?) the fact that I killed him off in Dark Side not once, but twice.
3) Adam Nevill believes it is more effective to disturb and unsettle with a horror story than to horrify.
4) Rebecca Levene likes the X-Men.
5) Richard Owen, champion of the Natural History Museum and inventor of the word 'dinosaur', also invented the word 'dentine'.

So there you go...

Scott "It has to be lime for me, every time" Andrews.

If you really want to, you'll find all sorts of embarrassing photos of myself (and other writerly types who'd also had possibly one Tequila too many) here.

Some good advice...

'Substitute "damn" every time you're inclined to write "very;" your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.'

~ Mark Twain

Ultramarines Exclusive

Head over to the SFX website now to read an exclusive interview with Dan Abnett about the forthcoming Ultramarines movie, coming soon from Codex Pictures.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Wise words from Gav Thorpe

Gav Thorpe has some very wise words on writing on his blog today. This part particularly rang true for me:

Sometimes the best thing to do as a writer is to focus on the writing… It’s not just about hitting deadlines. Maintaining focus makes the writing process run more smoothly overall. If your head is somewhere else – like thinking about that review or worrying that someone on the internet has said something you don’t agree with – then it isn’t in the story and characters.

However, this bit didn't:

Still, the novel is well on track for the midway point next week, and I’m keeping to my (for me) leisurely schedule of 20,000 words a week after that.

A leisurely 20,000 words a week?!? I wish!

Anyway, I need to take his advice on board in particular this week. After all, this monster isn't going to write itself, you know?

The End of the Line

Solaris Books' new anthology of horror stories set on various Underground networks, The End of the Line, edited by Jonathan Oliver, hit the shelves earlier this month and is already selling well.

However, the Official Launch is tomorrow - Tuesday 16 November - at Foyles in London, starting at 6.30pm. (The Gallery, upstairs at Foyles in London, at 113-119 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0EB)

Pat Cadigan, Adam Nevill and Chris Fowler will be there, signing copies of the anthology and of their latest books, as will anthologist Jon Oliver and cover artist and designer Luke Preece. (Then right after the launch finishes, we're all hopping to the Phoenix Artists' Club right over the road for a swift pint or two.)

Anyway all this is free - yes, FREE - and tickets are still available from Foyles, but they're running low. If you have been considering coming but haven't committed yet, now's the time. Email Foyles at events@foyles.co.uk. Maybe I'll see you there...

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Review update

A couple of reviews this weekend that I'd like to share with you.

Here's one for Howl of the Werewolf, from The Book Critics:

One of the gamebook genre popular before computers became common. Howl of the Werewolf is an excellent book where you are the hero. A hero who has been bitten by a werewolf and has to find a cure before he also becomes a monster. Wandering through a land full of evil with little help to be found and foes both good and evil you have to be good and lucky to survive to face your final foe and gain a cure.

Some of the Fighting Fantasy books have been so difficult as to be impossible to win. This one is not one of them. Complex, large and full of adventures, with excellent art, Howl of the Werewolf is a good way to have a good time away from a computer.
Rating: 4 / 5

And here's one for Pax Britannia: Unnatural History, from Good Reads:

This book is awesome. I'm disappointed to see it with anything less than a five star average... It's Indiana Jones meets Sherlock Holmes in a modern day steampunk London. The story is tight, short, and a freakin' blast. I'm not gonna get bogged down with narrative dynamics here, this is simply the definition of fun reading... It's steampunk with scallywags, dinosaurs, dirigibles, neanderthals, automatons, femme fatales, spidey-sense, and self-aware jokes. What are you waiting for?

Thursday, 11 November 2010

M is for Monster - buy your signed copy today!

This afternoon I had my ordered copies of M is for Monster delivered, courtesy of fellow contributor Adrian Chamberlain. Thanks again, Ade.

This means that M is the Monster is now available to buy, direct, from me. And, of course, any copy purchased will be signed by yours truly and may even include one or two other freebies.

You can purchase your copy here.

In the meantime, if you need a little more persuading, here's the blurb from the back of the book.

Monsters and creatures and horrors, oh my...

With each letter of the alphabet comes a different monster, and with each turn of the page comes a new foray into another author's sinister imaginings. From new twists on traditional favourites to modern glimpses into lesser-known mythology, from time-honoured staples of the horror genre to never-before-seen-beasts of the authors' design, these twenty-six tales take you on a wild roller-coaster tour of wicked conjuration.

A shrieking banshee of the High Moor... a seductive (and deadly) incubus spirit... a ghastly lot of blood-frenzied hogs... a biblical giant whose side of the story has never been told... the sword-slinging God of War himself... a vampire, a demon, a jabberwock, and a whole hellish host of other creatures and fiends known only by a few...

It's all jam-packed inside M IS FOR MONSTER: An Alphabetical Anthology of Abominations. Twenty-six international authors, twenty-six diverse tales. Legend and lore the world 'round have come together to bring this collection to chilling, spine-tingling life.

And the alphabet has never been so frightening.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

More Fighting Fantasy coming in 2011

Wizard Books continue to re-issue the Fighting Fantasy back catalogue in their shiny new livery into 2011.

In February you can expect to see Forest of Doom and Curse of the Mummy hitting the shelves...

... while in April, Armies of Death and Appointment with F.E.A.R. are slated for re-release.