Guest Post: “Five Old British Ways of Predicting the Future” by Aliya Whiteley

WhiteleyA-ArrivalOfMissivesUSWe never know what’s going to happen in the future, but that’s never stopped us from guessing.

In my novel The Arrival of Missives, Shirley Fearna teenage girl, is infatuated with her teacher. He served as a soldier during World War I and now keeps himself apart from the locals of the small English village where he lives. As Shirley tries harder to become part of his life, she discovers he has a secret. He believes that he is being shown the future. His method of predicting events to come is too unusual to spoil here, so instead here are a few other traditional British methods of predicting the future: Continue reading

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Guest Post: “Grimdark or Grimheart?” by Peter McLean

McLeanP-AuthorPicHi Stefan, thanks for having me back on Civilian Reader!

Last time I was here I was talking with you about my Urban Fantasy books and you asked what might be next, and I said,

“The majority of what I actually read for pleasure is secondary world fantasy, and I’ve always wanted to write a brutal Conan-esque Grimdark swords-and-swearing adventure story so that may see the light of day eventually.”

Well, it sort of did see the light of day.

And yet, at the same time, it sort of didn’t. I did write a brutal secondary world fantasy novel, and that’s Priest of Bones which is out on October 2nd from Ace. But it’s not quite what I had in mind when I originally answered that question three years ago. Continue reading

Guest Post: “The Final Chapter of the Bowers Files” by Steven James

JamesS-BF11-EveryWickedManUSIt was 2005 and I was a frustrated wannabe novelist.

I’d been wanting to write a thriller for years, but every time I started one, I found that my story wasn’t as fresh and original as I needed it to be. I was about ready to give up.

Then one day, while researching investigative techniques, I stumbled across an article about geospatial investigation, a little known, cutting-edge way of analyzing the timing, location, and progression of serial crimes that the FBI was starting to use.

It was unique, different, and perfect for my story. Everything began to click and FBI Special Agent Patrick Bowers was born.

The Pawn released in 2007 and my life would never be the same again.

Since each book takes me around a year to research and write, chronicling Patrick’s adventures and cases has been a labor of love for more than a decade.

And now, with the release of the eleventh and final book, Every Wicked Man, the long-running series is coming to an end and it’s come time to say goodbye to my old friend. Continue reading

Guest Post & Excerpt: CHILDREN OF ARTIFICE by Danie Ware

WareD-ArtificePROTEUS: THE MAN WITH NO FACE

Getting a character right can be tough. The concept is great — you know what you want them to do, feel, say — but somehow, you’re still struggling. And then, one day, the lights come suddenly on…

The “Man With No Face” has fascinated me for years. The actor, with no history or personality or name of their own, who can just assume any role necessary. And not just about the physical form (a la Mystique), but about assuming/creating the mental processes and emotions — becoming someone else completely. To me, it ties in with the “Gray Man” theory of urban espionage/survival; they’re the infiltrator who can hide in plain sight, so you’d never know they were there.

It’s a great concept — and it comes with so many questions. Where did they come from? How did they end up that way? Would they have a default setting? How would they train? And what about their emotional growth — they must be able to feel and understand the full range of human emotions, but also be able change them or switch them off when necessary. So how does that work? Continue reading

Guest Post: An Annotated Chapter of RAVENCRY by Ed McDonald (Gollancz/Ace)

McDonaldE-AuthorPicWhen I was asked to provide a first chapter critique of my own book, I thought that this was an excellent way to explain the way that my own writing craft works, and to point out the level of complexity that comes into play through many rounds of editing.

I think that I have to stress that the first chapter did not look like this at the end of the first draft. So many of the details, the events, even the character of Levan Ost, all changed multiple times during the editing process. These were the details and events that remained when the dust settled.

Throughout this text I’ve interrupted the narrative to point out why I made particular decisions. Everything in this chapter is a conscious choice, and hopefully I’ve been able to explain why I made some of them. Writing is a deeply personal and individual craft and no two people’s are the same. These were the right choices for me.

It should be noted that although there are no direct spoilers in my commentary, if you’ve not read RAVENCRY yet, then I will be pointing out particular details that are specifically of interest later in the book.

Continue reading

Guest Post: “The Books That Made Me” by R.S. Ford

All writers are influenced by stories, be they in TV, film, novels, comics, etc. Nowadays you can throw video games in there for good measure. Influence comes from all sorts of sources, but here’s a list of what influenced me the most when I was but a wee whippersnapper:

2000AD19242000AD

The first reading material I ever consumed voraciously, this seminal British comic gave us such classics as Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper, Sláine and Strontium Dog. It’s only since I’ve matured that I’ve realise all these characters were basically the same bloke – a hard-bitten future cop/future soldier/bounty hunter/celtic warrior that roams the land, violently being violent to other more violent villains. Obviously, 2000AD also gave us the ahead-of-its-time Halo Jones and the post-modern Zenith, but seven-year-old me was rather too young to appreciate them at the time. Continue reading

Guest Post: “Plotting the Perfect Murder” by Steve Cavanagh

CavanaghS-ThirteenUKI get a lot of compliments about the plotting in my books. I’ve been lucky, in that way. And yet every single piece of praise about the plot of Thirteen, or any of the other Eddie Flynn books makes me feel like a fraud.

Now, let’s be serious here. I’m also a writer, and that means I love it when people enjoy the books and when they say nice things. Keep those compliments coming. And the nice Amazon reviews. I like those too. I may feel like a fraud, but I’m willing to forego my feelings for event the faintest praise.

What I really mean is I don’t know how to plot a novel. I have no clue. In my mind plotting means colour-coded flash cards, whiteboards with all the names of the characters written large with arrows flowing between them, an outline, a beat sheet, a corkboard covered in Post-It notes, pages in a journal with notes for every character, a line graph showing the five-act structure, a detailed plan of the book with every scene sketched out from beginning to end.

I don’t do any of that. I can’t. See, told you I was a fraud. Continue reading