Monday 29 July 2019

Thought for the Day

"If you aren't in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?"

~ T. S. Eliot, British poet

Sunday 28 July 2019

Shark Week = Sharkpunk

As it's the start of Shark Week 2019, isn't it time you read Sharkpunk?

Sharks - the ultimate predators, masters of their watery domain, a world that is entirely alien and inhospitable to man. So many aspects of the shark are associated with humankind's most primal fears. The tell-tale dorsal fin slicing through the water, the dead eyed-stare, the gaping jaws full to unforgiving teeth, the remorseless drive to kill and feed...Inspired by such classic pulp movies as Jaws and Deep Blue Sea - as well as such ludicrous delights as Sharknado and Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus - the stories contained within are rip-roaring page-turners and slow-build chillers that celebrate all things savage, pulp and selachian. Covering the whole range of speculative fiction genres, from horror and Steampunk, through to SF and WTF, these are stories with bite! Come on in. The water's fine...

You can pick up your copy of Sharkpunk here.

Monday 22 July 2019

Thought for the Day

"There's no money in poetry, but then there's no poetry in money either."

~ Robert Graves, British poet

Saturday 20 July 2019

Magnificent Desolation

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

The Moon has inspired people in so many ways for countless millennia, including me. Ulysses Quicksilver braved the Moon's magnificent desolation in the sixth Pax Britannia novel, Dark Side, published nine years ago in 2010.

Ulysses Quicksilver visits the British lunar colonies, searching for his missing brother, Barty, believed to be on the run from gambling debts on Earth. The clues lead our detective and his faithful butler into the path of unsolved murders, battling robots, shady millionaires and stolen uncanny inventions. Used to working inside the law, Ulysses is stalled when his pursuit puts him on the wrong side of the Luna Prime Police Force.

But why is Ulysses' ex-fiancée Emilia also in the colonies? Who is the strange eye-patched man following Ulysses? And what is really happening in a secret base on the dark side of the moon? Used to meeting every adventure with a devil-may-care attitude and a snappy one-liner, Ulysses will be forever changed by the revelations he discovers on this most deadly of trips.

You can pick up a copy of Dark Side here.

Thursday 18 July 2019

Steampunk Thursday: Ulysses Quicksilver's Gun

It may be a year since Ulysses Quicksilver's most recent outing, in the story Reckless Engineering, but people are still enjoying my Pax Britannia stories and being inspired by them. One of those people is 3D artist Andrew Bjarnsen.

Only today, Andrew got in touch to let me know that he has modelled Ulysses Quicksilver's gun, as originally designed by Pye Parr. And here it is...

Wednesday 17 July 2019

Warhammer Wednesday: Inferno! Volume 4

I've been sitting on this news for a while, since last year in fact, but seeing as how Inferno! Volume 4 was recently announced on the Black Library website, I thought it timely to let you know that I have a story in the forthcoming anthology.

It's the first new piece of fiction I've written for the Black Library for some six years.

Inferno! Volume 4 is available to pre-order from 12th October, and is published on 31st October, meaning that October is going to be a busy month for JG releases.

Monday 15 July 2019

Happy Birthday, Clement Clarke Moore!

In case you don't already know, Clement Clarke Moore was the man who wrote the poem A Visit From Saint Nicholas, which is better known by its opening line, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, and which was part of the inspiration for my fifth ACE Gamebook.

'TWAS - The Krampus Night Before Christmas funded via Kickstarter earlier this year, and will be published later this year. But if you missed the original crowdfunding campaign, you can still place a late pledge. Simply click this link and follow the instructions given in that blog post, ignoring the bit about Late Pledges closing in February.

Thought for the Day

"It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation."

~ Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick

Friday 12 July 2019

Gamebook Friday: ACE Gamebooks at Fighting Fantasy Fest 3

I am pleased to be able to announce that ACE Gamebooks will be one of the indie gamebook series joining the festivities at Fighting Fantasy Fest 3, on Saturday 31st August, at the University of West London in Ealing.

So don't delay - grab your ticket today!

And for anyone who's interested, The Bottled Imp recently posted a video of an interview they recorded with me at last year's UK Games Expo.

Thursday 11 July 2019

Steampunk Thursday: Happy Birthday, Big Ben!

On this day in 1859, 160 years ago, Big Ben's chimes were heard for the first time. However, it won't be chiming today, as the Elizabeth Tower is currently in the middle of a £61 million revamp project.

The Clock Tower (as it used to be called) at the bell Big Ben itself, are a vital part of Tempus Fugit, the Pax Britannia short story I wrote for Abaddon X, the slim volume published to mark Abaddon Books' tenth anniversary, back in 2017.

Monday 8 July 2019

Thought for the Day

"All stories are ultimately about the fall."

~ J. R. R. Tolkien

Friday 5 July 2019

Gamebook Friday: Alice's Nightmare in Wonderland at Alice's Day 2019

This Saturday, 6th July, I will be in Oxford for Alice's Day, specifically to give a talk about Alice's Nightmare in Wonderland, at 10:00am at the Weston Library.

It is completely free to attend, so if you're in Oxford on Saturday, why not pop along and join me? I'll be selling my books in the foyer afterwards.

Gamebook Friday: Beowulf Beastslayer!

Here is the cover for my next ACE Gamebook, Beowulf Beastslayer, featuring the awesome artwork of Russ Nicholson.

King Hrothgar’s great golden mead-hall, Heorot, lies under a curse. Each night, the mirth-hating monster Grendel comes to the hall, from its lair in the fens, to maim and murder! None can kill the monster, though many have tried.

For twelve long years the bitter blood-feud continues, until one day, from across the sea, comes a saviour – Beowulf Beastslayer!

Beowulf Beastslayer is unlike other books. In fact, it is a gateway to the mythic world of the Scandinavian sagas. Once inside its pages, you will find yourself travelling to Heorot to embark upon a thrilling epic quest of your own.

In Beowulf Beastslayer, YOU decide which route to take, which perils to risk, and which of the strange creatures you will meet along the way to fight. But whether you survive your quest and rise to the level of lauded hero, and maybe even king, or succumb to the likes of the monster Grendel and his sea-hag mother, will be down to the choices YOU make.

A tale of heroes... A tale of monsters... A legend reborn!

Beowulf Beastslayer will be published by Snowbooks on 7th October 2019.

Thursday 4 July 2019

My Top Ten Book Covers

I'm not normally a Top Ten short of person. I certainly don't have a favourite anything*. But having seen people posting pictures of covers of books that have been important to them over the year, I decided to challenge myself to select my ten favourite covers of the books I have had published to date**.

Before I start, I should point out that this is not to denigrate the work of some fabulous artists I've been fortunate enough to work with over the years, it's just that sometimes some images have a greater impact than others, or turn out even better than expected and completely sell the book.

So here, in no particular order - other than chronologically - are my Top Ten Book Covers***.

1) Curse of the Mummy, art by Martin McKenna (1995)
It's ancient Egypt, it's Martin McKenna (his first full cover for a Fighting Fantasy gamebook), and it's beautiful.

2) The Dead and the Damned, art by Clint Langley (2002)
I was very proud of my first novel, whatever the critics might have said, and I loved the cover even more. Just look at it - it's just so detailed! And check out all those skeletons! I'd been a fan of Clint Langley's since seeing his work in 2000AD so when I discovered he would be producing the art for my first Warhammer novel, I was delighted!

3) Bloodbones, art by Martin McKenna (2006)
It's Martin again and it's the undead pirate captain himself. What's not to love?

4) Pax Britannia: Dark Side, art by Mark Harrison (2010)
This is just such an arresting image, an homage to a classic sci-fi movie, and has the Moon as a human skull. (I've just realised that skulls regularly feature among my favourite book covers, but then I do have Yorick's sitting on my desk.)

5) YOU ARE THE HERO - A History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks, art by Martin McKenna (2014)
My fiftieth published book was something a bit special, for all sorts of reasons, not least because of the fantastic wraparound cover Martin produced for it, featuring a veritable horde of villains and monsters from the classic gamebook series.

6) Alice's Nightmare in Wonderland, art by Kev Crossley (2015)
The first of my ACE Gamebooks series, published before there was an ACE Gamebooks series, what I love about this cover is the way Kev produced such a fantastic homage to John Tenniel's illustration of Alice and the Cheshire Cat, while also setting the tone for the whole adventure.

7) Shakespeare Vs. Cthulhu, cover design by Emma Barnes (2016)
This cover may only use manipulated stock imagery but it sends a very clear message to potential readers that says, "This book does exactly what it says on the tin."

8) The Wicked Wizard of Oz, art by Kev Crossley (2017)
What I love about this cover is the image of Oz itself (for that is what it is) and the way Kev brought the entity to life.

9) Scrooge and Marley (Deceased): The Haunted Man, art by Garen Ewing (2017)
I've been an admirer of Garen Ewing's ligne claire style of drawing for years, so when he agreed to produce the cover illustration for my sequel to Dickens' A Christmas Carol, it was another thing ticked off my bucket list.

10) NEVERLAND - Here Be Monsters!, art by Kev Crossley (2019)
And so we come to my most recently-published book (as of writing), which features a fully painted cover by Kev this time, featuring one of Kev's favourite things to draw - a dinosaur!

So three of my favourite book covers feature artwork by Martin McKenna, and three artwork by Kev Crossley. Honourable mentions must go to the new edition of the German language version of my first Pax Britannia novel Unnatural History****, and Maria Paolo's cover art for the Argentinian translation of Alice's Nightmare in Wonderland.

* As in Favourite Book, Favourite Movie, Favourite TV Show.

** I'm not including covers of anthologies I've been published in, but anthologies I've edited are fair game. And books that haven't been published yet are ineligible for inclusion.

*** Valid for today only.

**** Apologies to the artist, for I don't know who they are.

Wednesday 3 July 2019

Warhammer Wednesday: Apocalyptic Battles in the 41st Millennium!

Apocalypse is what it's all about in the Warhammer 40,000 universe at the moment, and some of the books the Black Library has produced, that feature apocalyptic battles, are being given a renewed push as a result.

Obviously, the War for Armageddon omnibus gets a mention, which, although it doesn't contain my two Armageddon novels, does include my Black Templars' story The Relic.

And while we're on the subject of apocalyptic battles, several of those that occur within my novel Iron Hands are definitely on the apocalypse scale, so why not check it out?