Monday 27 June 2016

Thought for the Day

"Stories can conquer fear, you know. They can make the heart bigger."

~ Ben Okri, poet and novelist

Sunday 26 June 2016

Shakespeare Sunday: Lovecraft's Labours Lost

Everyone who has backed the Shakespeare Vs Cthulhu Kickstarter at the Richard III reward level and above will be receiving a bonus short story, written by Tim Bayley, entitled Lovecraft's Labours Lost. And here's a taster...

They passed from grassy sun-blessed plain to the darkness of the wood, warm regardless with the heat of a summer’s night. A hare had accompanied them a ways, then a hound, a hog... there’d been an untended fire after, but Prosperus led them on. In between they’d been distracted as, one by one, they turned at the tap or pinch of another. But Prosperus showed no impatience at such undue frivolity, whoever was the culprit. By and by, up on a low tree branch ahead, a figure waited, hands clasped. By height he was a small man or a tall youth and seemed both hare-young and oak-ancient. His smile across was merry but in what measure between innocence or wickedness Will could not have said.  
‘Welcome wanderers.’  
‘You are the hobgoblin,’ said Prosperus, ‘the Goodfellow who is called Robin?’  
‘Thou speak’st aright,’ the figure approved in some gentle mocking of their speech and dropped to the ground.  
‘I thank you for coming, honest Puck, and would take time to offer such courtesies as befit you, yet time is the coin wanting in our purses, so I must just enquire: do you have it?’  
‘Indeed,’ this Robin replied, producing a package, ‘retained since ancient times for sport; yet such sport as would be in short supply should your purse run empty. A gift then, and freely given without obligation.’  
With thanks given and courtesies observed they took their leave; only Will once more addressed their benefactor: ‘That was you, was it not? On our way here. The hare, the hound, the hog... the prods and pinching.’  
Puck grinned. ‘A treasure I was to deliver, however necessary; I but took my taxes where I could in fair fee. Fare thee well, noble Prosperus, Faustus Rakehell, Groatsworth and upstart Crow; I would not follow if e’en now I could, but go with the good wishes of Summer and fare thee well.’

Tim Bayley has lived in the Big City for some 16 years and worked in the book trade throughout that time as a Bookseller and then a Sales Rep, more recently directing his efforts full time to writing, organising events and working on web projects. It was after finishing the penultimate draft of a young adults book that the urban fantasy character that had lurked at the back of Tim’s mind jumped up and said ‘My turn’, and he spent the last year discovering the seedy underbelly of London’s secret magical society in order to write the tales on this site and the first half of a full length novel of the same.

Saturday 25 June 2016

Short Story Saturday: Sharks and Shakespeare

Just (another) quick reminder that you have until midnight GMT next Friday, 1st July 2016, to send me your submissions for SHARKPUNK 2. If you don't know what that means, then click this link.

My other piece of short story news for today is that the official launch arranged for Shakespeare Vs Cthulhu - the ultimate genre mash-up anthology of the year - will take place on Saturday 13th August, from 1:00-2:00pm, at Forbidden Planet in London.

A number of the contributing authors and artists will be in attendance, as will a certain Bard. So jot the date down in your diary, and maybe we'll see you there.

Thursday 23 June 2016

Steampunk Thursday: Koszmar Alicji w Krainie Czarów

Now available in Poland -

Koszmar Alicji w Krainie Czarów!

Which, in case you don't speak Polish yourself (like me) means Alice's Nightmare in Wonderland.

And check out some of the awesome artwork Polish fans of the colouring book phenomenon have produced!

If you have any coloured Alice's Nightmare images you'd like to share, please email me via

Monday 20 June 2016

Thought for the Day

"People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it's the other way around."

~ Sir Terry Pratchett (1948-2015)

Sunday 19 June 2016

Shakespeare Sunday: Ladies and gentlemen, for Twelfth Night only...

... introducing Mr Ed Fortune, author of The King in Yellow Stockings!

When the Duke Orsino announced, “If music be the food of love, play on, give me excess of it; that surfeiting, the appetite may sicken, and so die,” I have to admit, I laughed. Such a pompous, self-important man who loved himself above all others and could no more love another than he could love a mirror. I had been laughing at the Duke for some time, of course. The man had made rather a nuisance of himself to my lady’s court. I miss him terribly.  
Little did I understand at the time that this was no grand statement of desire, nor the pretentious squawking of some bored noble who was venting his frustration at his inability to woo my mistress Olivia. None of us knew at the time that it was a summoning, a dire call into the wild cosmos, where things beyond our ken lurked and plotted events that would lead to the demise of us all.

Ed Fortune has been telling stories since he was very small and he is now too old to stop. He writes about books, table-top games and comics for Starburst Magazine and hosts a very podcast about genre. He also happens to be an award winning games designer, which is nice. He has written for magazines as diverse as Time Out and The Fortean Times. He lives in Greater Manchester in a cave surrounded by bears and is powered by tea and chocolate hobnobs.

Ed Fortune, and some other bloke.
Ed Fortune, and some other bloke.
Shakespeare Vs Cthulhu goes on sale later this summer.

Saturday 18 June 2016

SHARKPUNK 2 - Time is running out...

If you are interested in submitting a short story for SHARKPUNK 2, please be aware that there are less than two weeks to go until the 1st July 2016 deadline for submissions.

The stories in SHARKPUNK 2 can – and indeed should – cover the whole range of speculative fiction genres, from horror and steampunk, through to science fiction and action-adventure; the only stipulation is that they must all feature sharks in some way. Alternate historical settings for stories are welcomed (there haven’t been any involving the Golden Age of Piracy yet, or medieval crusading knights braving the perils of the Mediterranean). I am also very happy that the stories feature recurring characters of your own creation, as long as including them in the anthology won’t infringe upon anyone’s copyright. (In other words, you need to own the rights to the character yourself, or have permission from the copyright owner to have them appear in SHARKPUNK 2 at no charge.)

Stories need to be between 3,500 and 7,000 words in length (although there will be some flexibility with this, depending on the individual stories) and the deadline for first drafts is 1st July 2016SHARKPUNK (Volume 1) features stories involving space sharks, ghost sharks, Franken-sharks, psychological sharks, and “sharks with frikkin’ laser-beams attached to their heads” (just about). However, we’ve yet to read any stories about zombie sharks, Hawaiian were-sharks, alien sharks, or tales featuring vampires and sharks, for example, so please bear this in mind when you are working up your idea. I don’t mind if some themes are revisited, but obviously I don’t want an anthology of nothing but steam-powered sharks made out of brass and walnut panelling – heaven forbid!

The plan is to publish SHARKPUNK 2 in 2017 and I am going to be running a Kickstarter (either towards the end of 2016 or early 2017) to raise funds to produce the book and, just as importantly, to pay the contributors. If your story is selected for publication, subject to a successful Kickstarter, you will be paid £50 and will receive a physical copy of the book. However, you will also receive royalties from copies of the book sold outside of the initial Kickstarter, which will be paid on top of your fee. Not instead of, not offset against royalties, but as well as! One of the Kickstarter rewards will be a signed copy of the book and you need to be prepared to sign however many copies are required to fulfil this reward level.

In terms of rights, Snowbooks ask for exclusive World English language rights for six months from the date of publication, dropping to non-exclusive World English language rights thereafter, with an option for foreign language translation within the anthology should offers be made for overseas editions. They also require rights to special editions, omnibus editions or other anthology editions, where appropriate.

If you are interested in being a part of SHARKPUNK 2, then please read the submission guidelines below very carefully, as any submissions not adhering to them will be automatically rejected.

SHARKPUNK 2 submission guidelines 

1. Fonts – choose something easy on the eye for proofing, something like Palatino, Calibri or Times New Roman.

2. Dialogue – “double quote marks” around speech, ‘rather than single’, which can be used for quoting within speech.

3. Formatting – indent new paragraphs, rather than leave a single line break, but use two (or more) line breaks for a change of scene/time/point of view. Please use a single space between sentences rather than two spaces. Please leave a space after an ellipsis but not before one. Submit your story double line spaced.

4. Spelling – please use English spellings throughout, and ‘s’ over ‘z’ in words like ‘realise’.

5. Proof-reading – please proof-read your story carefully before you send it, and remember that a Spellchecker is your friend (although not infallible).

6. Poetry – SHARKPUNK 2 is an anthology of short stories, not a poetry collection, so no poetry please.

7. Contact details – make sure your name and contacts details (including email) appear on the first page of your story.

8. Document name – this should include SHARKPUNK 2, the name of your story, and your name, for ease of identification.

9. Emailing your submission – send your submission to The subject of your email must include your name, story title, and the words ‘SHARKPUNK 2 submission’ in the subject line. For example, SHARKPUNK 2 submission – The Sharks of Wrath – Jonathan Green’. Please include your real name, your writing name (if different), the title of your story and a one sentence synopsis of your submission. Send your story as a document in .doc (Word) or .rtf (Rich Text) format as an attachment to your email, and not pasted into the body of the email itself. Submissions will only be accepted via email.

10. Reading period – the reading period will be from 1st July – 1st October 2016. Formal feedback will not be given on submissions, unless they are accepted for publication, and discussions will not be entered into regarding reasons for rejection. Please do not submit your story anywhere else, until you know of our decision, and if you are not happy working to the terms outlined above, please do not submit.

I have already had a number of submissions, and some from some well-known writers, but SHARKPUNK 2 is open to all, regardless of age or publishing credits. I just want the very best story you can write - so get writing!

Friday 17 June 2016

The Creation of a Modern Creation Myth

Two hundred years ago today, on 17th June 1816, whilst staying on the shores of Lake Geneva during the Year Without A Summer, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley began writing the ghost story that would become the gothic horror/early SF novel, Frankenstein.

On Monday this week, I was fortunate enough to be attend a lecture given by Professor Sir Christopher Frayling at the Science Museum in London. Entitled 'Frankenstein – From Literature to Myth to Bogeyman of Science', Sir Christopher's lecture detailed the circumstances surrounding the creation of the Shelley's infamous story, its influences, and its legacy, separating that which is Shelley's from that which is Hollywood's. (For example, did you know that Shelley makes no reference in the novel to how Frankenstein actually brings the Creature to life?)

Sir Christopher also highlighted one throwaway line from the novel which could well explain why the Creature is eight feet tall, and has given me an idea for a new short story.

The lecture, which featured extracts from Sir Christopher's TV documentary 'Nightmare: The Birth of Horror' as well as the nightmare fuel that are the automata of Neuchâtel in Switzerland, along with references to Fritz Lang's Metropolis, was followed by a round table discussion with the anatomist and top BBC presenter Professor Alice Roberts, the lead curator of the Science Museum's forthcoming Robots exhibition Ben Russell, and the journalist, film critic, and fiction writer, Kim Newman.

Kim Newman, Professor Alice Roberts, and Professor Sir Christopher Frayling.

The panel also threw up some fascinating ideas and story hooks, and we learned that if Frankenstein were to attempt to create a living being today, it would be 3D printed as a collagen framework which would then being colonised by stem cells, with a tiny computer taking the place of an organic brain.

However, as fascinating as the evening was, the highlight for me came at the end when both Professor Sir Christopher Frayling and Professor Alice Roberts, graciously accepted copies of my Pax Britannia novel Anno Frankenstein - my own sort-of-sequel to Shelley's original masterpiece*, which even prompted the following mention on Twitter:

Now, just imagine what a cover quote from Sir Christopher Frayling or Professor Alice Roberts would do for sales of the novel...

* Except that I wasn't 18 when I wrote my novel!

Thursday 16 June 2016

Steampunk Thursday: TivLitFest 2016

Last weekend I was one of the authors invited to take part in the second Tiverton Literacy Festival - a.k.a. TivLitFest.

The event began for me on the Saturday with the Book Fair, during the course of which I ran into the Hatter, which was rather appropriate considering I was selling Alice's Nightmare in Wonderland, as well as my Pax Britannia books.

While at the Book Fair I also met up with the Circle of Spears crew, who will be producing the audiobook version of SHARKPUNK.

In the evening, I attended a talk given by authors Jenny Kane and Laura Wilkinson about the different ways to get published

And then on the Sunday, I gave a talk about my own work, specifically writing tie-in fiction and adventure gamebooks, an event which also closed this year's TivLitFest.

A huge thank you to all of the organisers, specifically Jenny Kane, Kerstin Muggeridge and Sue Griggs, as well as Naomi De Vries, for inviting me, for making me feel so welcome, and for the kind gift as well. And of course an equally huge thank you to everyone who came along to my talk or bought one of my books during the course of the weekend.

Kerstin, Yours Truly, Jenny and Sue.

Monday 13 June 2016

Thought for the Day

"I can shake off everything if I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn."
~ Anne Frank ~

Sunday 12 June 2016

Shakespeare Sunday - The Suns of York

I first met Adrian Chamberlin through Dark Continents Publishing, and having heard him read from one of his stories and wax lyrical about horror at the Big Green Bookshop Phobophobia event, I knew that he would be a perfect fit for Shakespeare Vs Cthulhu.
Ade's story takes one of Shakespeare's history plays as its source of inspiration. I wonder if you can guess which one, from this extract...

A mace crashed into my side and I spun, almost falling to the churned ground. I arrested the second blow with my sword, pushed the pommel into the open visor of the armoured man and saw his mouth erupt in a shower of blood and broken teeth. I slashed, thrust back, and he crashed to the ground. To my left I saw our commander, Richard of Gloucester, his helm cast aside and terror in his youthful eyes, and I hesitated.
Richard was only eighteen, ten years my junior, but a natural leader whose prowess put more seasoned warriors to shame; he had distinguished himself on the fog-strewn battlefield at Barnet the previous month.
All that was now forgotten. He sank to the churned mud and carnage, on his knees, his sword abandoned. His hands clasped together, misshapen in steel gauntlets, and his head tilted forward.
Praying, in the midst of battle! A cold fury took me, to see our commander abandoning his natural ability and martial experience, to commend his soul to God rather than inspire his men to battle to the last breath. This is the moment when battles are lost: when men look to their lord and commander for strength and see only a mewling boy, resorting to grovelling on the ground like a tiny wren, hiding from mightier birds of prey.
“Richard!” I shouted, the protocol of using his title forgotten. My voice echoed through the slaughter field and I saw several combatants flinch. I strode toward him, stepping over opened corpses.
“Gloucester! To me, man!” I was within yards of him. He must have heard me, for I clearly heard his whispered words, his fevered exhortations – but I could not understand them. I froze.
His black hair was matted and drenched with sweat that ran down his lopsided cheeks. His words became guttural, his face distorted by a snarl, his thick lips twisted and drawn back from his uneven teeth so the prayer became even less intelligible – the snuffling, questing sounds of a boar. He shrank into himself, his drooping right shoulder exacerbating the crookback that his custom pauldrons usually disguised so well.
The darkness grew; shadows lengthened, hiding the carrion of battle carnage in their sinuous blackness. Plate armour and sharpened blades no longer reflected the summer sunlight – they became blurred, grey shapes from which the light shrank. I glanced up, and saw nothing above the treeline but thickening greyness, like the fog that had obscured the battlefield at Barnet.

Adrian Chamberlin lives in the small south Oxfordshire town of Wallingford that serves as a backdrop to the UK television series Midsomer Murders, not far from where Agatha Christie lies buried, dreaming in darkness. He is the author of the critically acclaimed supernatural thriller The Caretakers as well as numerous short stories in a variety of anthologies, mostly historical or futuristic-based supernatural horror. He co-edited Read the End First, an apocalyptic anthology, with Suzanne Robb (author of the acclaimed thriller Z-Boat) and edited the supernatural warfare novella collection Darker Battlefields, coming from the Exaggerated Press in summer 2016. He is aware of the concept of “spare time” but swears it’s just a myth. Further information can be found on his website:
Adrian Chamberlin
Adrian Chamberlin

Saturday 11 June 2016

JG at TivLitFest this weekend

This weekend I am in Devon for the Tiverton Literary Festival.

On Saturday I shall be selling my books at the Book Fair at St George's Church, from 10.00am - 1.00pm.

On Sunday I shall be giving a talk about writing tie-in fiction for some of the UK's most popular franchises, as well as the appeal of Steampunk, and the gamebook renaissance.

You can buy tickets in advance here, at the festival website, or, I am told, you can rock up and buy tickets on the door.

Maybe I'll see you there.

Friday 10 June 2016

Gamebook Friday: Last weekend at the UK Games Expo

Last weekend I was at the Birmingham NEC for the UK Games Expo. After having such a successful weekend last year, I went with some trepidations this year as the gaming and trading aspects of the event had been separated. As it turned out, I need not have worried - the Expo was even bigger and better than last year.

I was there primarily promoting Alice's Nightmare in Wonderland, but several people picked up copies of my Pax Britannia novels and some die-hard fans of Fighting Fantasy were keen to grab some of the last hardback copies in existence of YOU ARE THE HERO.

It was a weekend of many highlights, including meeting Facebook friends in person for the first time, as well as making new friends. And of course it's always nice to learn that people have enjoyed your work and appreciate what you do.

One of my first visitors came bearing gifts. You can back the Star Bastards Kickstarter here.

Fighting Fantasy gamebook fan Olivier stopped by to say hello.

The Starburst guys, among them Shakespeare Vs Cthulhu contributor Ed Fortune.

Fighting Fantasy legends Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson were featured in the Expo programme.

Jamie Wallis demoing Fighting Fantasy Quest - coming soon to Kickstarter.

Alice's Nightmare in Wonderland, playing cards, and a teaser about a future Kickstarter.

The Daleks were out in force again this year, demanding money with menaces.

A lot of gaming took place over the weekend... but then it was the UK Games Expo.

Alice's Nightmare in Wonderland, was up for Best RPG in the UK Games Expo Awards.

James Spearing and his wife Julia also stopped by to say hello.

Loyal Fighting Fantasy fan Mark Crew.

Mr Colin Baker (a.k.a. the Sixth Doctor) stopped by, which was nice.

The 19th Century Falcon.

Author Gareth Baker.

Alice meets Alice.

Special thanks must go to author Gareth Baker, who shared the authors' table with me, Haydn and Steve who helped out over the weekend, Darren Pearce, and UKGE Director Richard Denning's sprightly octogenarian father John who wrangled us writers very effectively over the weekend.

The whole experience was a lot of fun, and I hope to be back again next year - possibly with this in tow...