Guest Post: “Write what you know… even if that’s just being an idiot” by Tom Lloyd

Write what you know, it’s the first piece of advice a writer will get. It’s sometimes useful too. After eight years and almost a decade as a published novelist, I was starting a new series and so I asked myself what I’d learned, what I liked and what I wanted for the next few years. But this time round I wasn’t some newbie, I was a wise and skilled crafter of words who utters profound witticisms as he works the room of industry types, right?

Much to my disappointment that clearly wasn’t the case. I was pretty much the same damn fool I’ve always been. Well meaning, stubborn not the cleverest, getting on a bit with something of a food preoccupation – not without some skill but not ever likely to be one of the biggest and brightest stars in the sky. So hey, write what you know? Continue reading

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Review: RIVER OF TEETH by Sarah Gailey (Tor.com)

gaileys-riverofteethAn classic-style Western. Only, with killer hippos…

In the early 20th Century, the United States government concocted a plan to import hippopotamuses into the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This is true.

Other true things about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two.

This was a terrible plan.

Contained within this volume is an 1890s America that might have been: a bayou overrun by feral hippos and mercenary hippo wranglers from around the globe. It is the story of Winslow Houndstooth and his crew. It is the story of their fortunes. It is the story of his revenge.

River of Teeth has a fantastic premise: what if hippos were imported into the United States, to make up for the decline in buffalo stocks? This was a real proposal, way back when, and Gailey has done a great job of imaging an America in which hippos have spread and thrived — some are used as mounts, and there are thousands of deadly “ferals” populating the waterways. Now, throw in a group of mercenaries, drawn together on an operation (not a caper), and you have all the ingredients for a fun, original adventure. Continue reading

Interview with COREY J. WHITE

whitecj-authorpic-cropLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Corey J. White?

I live in Melbourne, Australia, and I enjoy scotch and playing with the cat. When I’m not writing, I work in education for an Australian retailer and publisher. I’m not particularly interesting on paper, but my mum thinks I’m cool.

Your debut novella, Killing Gravity, will be published by Tor.com. It looks pretty awesome: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

Killing Gravity follows Mars Xi, the most powerful space witch in the galaxy, and her experimental, cat-like pet named Seven. Mars has the ability to kill you with her mind — and if you cross her she’ll do exactly that. She wants little more than peace, but finds herself on a path toward answers and, inevitably, revenge against MEPHISTO — the military research group that made her what she is.

Or if I wanted to be reductive, I could say it’s like The Force Awakens, but where Rey is damaged and merciless, with the psychic powers of Akira‘s Tetsuo. Continue reading

Guest Post: “Four Kingdoms and Twelve Labours: Turning Myths into Reality” by Matthew Reilly

reillym-authorpicOne of the things that motivated me to write The Four Legendary Kingdoms was a desire to explore humanity’s fascination with myths, in particular, the myth of the Twelve Labours of Hercules.

I’ve long been intrigued by the Twelve Labours: those twelve tasks given to the great warrior Hercules that were so monstrously difficult they inspired the adjective “Herculean”. More than that, they were so momentous they are still talked about today, 3,000 years after Hercules supposedly performed them.

We all vaguely know the Labours: defeating the Nemean Lion (with its impenetrable pelt) or slaying the Hydra (with its many regenerating heads) or capture the Cretan Bull. Continue reading

Guest Post: “On Worldbuilding” by Simon Morden

mordens-authorpicOne of the joys of writing novels over writing for the screen is that your budget is infinite and your imagination is unfettered. You don’t have to worry about the cost of the number of suns your planet orbits around, nor about the practical effort required to have half a dozen alien races, none of whom conform to a basic upright and bipedal morphology, appear repeatedly and interact with your human characters.

In Down Station, when I blew up London – which in and of itself is a somewhat technical task, involving setting fire to the Underground and melting the streets around Mayfair – I needed somewhere for my survivors to run to. That somewhere was Down, which has more in common with Tarkovsky’s Solaris and Julian May’s Pliocene Earth than it does C.S. Lewis’ Narnia. I wanted Down to be both eerily familiar and surprisingly different: you can, of course, read the Books of Down and not worry about what happens under the bonnet, but as the author, that’s exactly what I had to do – open it up and tinker with the engine until I was happy with how it all worked. Continue reading

Interview with GAIE SEBOLD

SeboldG-AuthorPicWelcome back to CR! Let’s start with an introduction, for new readers: Who is Gaie Sebold?

I’m a fantasy writer and (very) occasional poet, with a partner (writer David Gullen) a small cat, and a large garden. I run writing workshops – I’m currently running a series of them for my local women’s centre. I occasionally disconcert the neighbours by plotting aloud to myself while weeding.

Your next novel, Sparrow Falling, will be published by Solaris. It’s the second novel in your latest series: How would you introduce the series to a potential reader?

It follows the adventures of a street child and professional con-artist Eveline Sparrow, in a fantasy Victorian era where the Fey and many other mythical beings exist. Eveline gets caught up in events where the politics of our world overlap dangerously with those of the Fey while discovering the truth about her past and trying to protect herself and those she cares about in the present. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE EMPEROR’S RAILROAD by Guy Haley (Tor.com)

HaleyG-EmperorsRailroadAn interesting new post-apocalyptic series

Global war devastated the environment, a zombie-like plague wiped out much of humanity, and civilization as we once understood it came to a standstill. But that was a thousand years ago, and the world is now a very different place.

Conflict between city states is constant, superstition is rife, and machine relics, mutant creatures and resurrected prehistoric beasts trouble the land. Watching over all are the silent Dreaming Cities. Homes of the angels, bastion outposts of heaven on Earth. Or so the church claims. Very few go in, and nobody ever comes out.

Until now…

This is an interesting novella, and one that shows a lot of potential for expansion. (According to the author, it is first in a possible/planned series of stories.) The story is told from the perspective of Abney, one of the travellers to whom the knight on the cover attaches himself. The three are travelling cross-country: the mother and son are trying to reach Winfort, an outpost in which a distant relative lives. Quinn, the knight’s motivation is shrouded in mystery, and pretty much remains so at the end of the novella. This is no bad thing, as it gives us a little hint as to what we should expect from upcoming stories in this setting. Abney recounts their journey, and offers us an introduction to the setting and characters — we don’t get too much, but we start to see their characters take shape, and in the process some tantalizing hints about how the world got to this state.

The biggest surprise for me was that the railroad in the title was… pretty much absent from the story. Not strictly speaking a bad thing, but an odd decision, given the title. The story does, however, have angels, dragons and some excellent tension. It’s a somewhat slow-burn, and is clearly setting things up for future adventures. It’s pretty satisfying, though.

If you enjoy post-apocalyptic stories, then this is a must-read. Very good.

The Emperor’s Railroad is published by Tor.com in April 2016.

Also on CR: Interview with Guy Haley