New Books (February #1)

BooksReceived-20150214

Featuring: Joe Abercrombie, Mark Alder, Michel Bussi, Michael Christie, John Clarkson, Toby Clements, Myke Cole, Rowena Cory Daniells, William Dietz, Cecilia Ekbäck, Christopher Fowler, John French, Steven Harper, Lee Kelly, Jean Hanff Korelitz, Ursula le Guin, Stephen Marche, Marshall Ryan Maresca, George R.R. Martin, Paul McAuley, Ben Mezrich, Michael Moorcock, Michael Alan Nelson, Peter Orullian, Den Patrick, Justina Robson, Andrzej Sapkowski, Joe Schreiber, Harry Turtledove, Nicolle Wallace Continue reading

An Interview with DEN PATRICK

DenPatrick-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Den Patrick?

I’m a thirty-something novelist, originally from Dorset, born to Londoner parents. I’ve been in London for over ten years. I describe myself as all round geek; I like Fantasy, Sci-Fi, table top gaming, RPGs, CCGs and other acronyms that confuse normal folks.

Your debut novel, The Boy With the Porcelain Blade, is due to be published by Gollancz next week (March 20th). How would you introduce the novel to a new reader? Is it the first in a series?

The Boy with the Porcelain Blade is the first book of The Erebus Sequence. It is a Fantasy novel set in a pseudo-Renaissance world full of suspicion, politics and mystery. The novel takes place is the vast sprawling castle of Demesne, in the Kingdom of Landfall. The protagonist, Lucien, is exiled just after he turns eighteen which precipitates a lot of (frequently violent) repercussions. And swearing and sarcasm.

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What inspired you to write the series? And where do you draw your inspiration from in general?

The book was originally called The Boy with the Porcelain Ears. There is a point in the novel where Lucien wears fabricated ears to make up for his own, which he is lacking. It was very much about being self-conscious and different. So much of fiction is based on the outsider. My influences come from anywhere, as much from films as novels, music and television play their part, but also games. There’s also an undercurrent of Horror to Porcelain despite remaining a Fantasy novel.

You’ve also written three War Manuals for classic fantasy races (Dwarves, Elves, and Orcs). How did this project come about? How did writing these differ from writing The Boy With the Porcelain Blade?

I was chatting to Simon Spanton at the Gollancz 50th birthday party a few years back. We got talking about Tolkein, as geeks do after a certain amount of booze. One of us (I can’t remember who) joked that it would be funny if there was a guide to conducting warfare as written by orcs. We met again in a pub not long after and decided we’d try it out. They were a lot of fun to write. The War-Manuals were very much in the vein of an army book, but also provided a chance to poke fun at the pop culture stereotypes of Elves, Dwarves an Orcs. They’re really instructional books, so are very different to a novel and the pacing of a story.

PatrickD-WarFightingManuals

How were you introduced to reading and genre fiction?

I wasn’t so hot at school at age seven but I found these books called Tim and the Hidden People by Sheila K. McCullagh. I was reading below my age but they really grabbed by attention. They’re set in the modern world but full of ghosts and talking cats and magic. It was the early ’80s at that point, so I’d read anything to do with Star Wars, comics and annuals. Later I’d voraciously read White Dwarf or army codexes cover-to-cover. Later still came James Herbert, Terry Pratchet and David Eddings.

How do you enjoy being a writer and working within the publishing industry?

I became a full-time writer by accident, laid off from the bookstore I was working at. Irony alert! I spend a lot of time alone, so I always make the effort to get out of the house in the evenings and see people, lest I become completely unhinged. I am so grateful to be able to do the thing I love full time, but it is a job. Some days I get tired, sometimes things go wrong, sometimes I procrastinate, but not often. I know I have people I can reach out to if I get stuck or worried about anything. My agent Juliet Mushens is great, and so is my publisher.

Is being an author what you expected? Do you have any specific working, writing, researching practices?

Don’t turn on the internet before noon. Once you log into Twitter or Facebook the day just disappears. I write in 500 word bursts, taking a break to make coffee, shower or eat before trying out another 500 words. A lot of time is spent in my pjs. I scribble myself notes on the bus, which isn’t helpful as I have terrible handwriting. I do a lot of thinking while gazing out of bus windows.

When did you realize you wanted to be an author, and what was your first foray into writing? Do you still look back on it fondly?

I think I was in my mid-twenties when I started writing this awful superhero future noir nonsense. I just wrote it for myself. It wasn’t until my early thirties that I became more serious. I started two other novels before I actually managed to finish one, but the less said about that the better.

What’s your opinion of the genre today, and where do you see your work fitting into it?

Genre is huge, both in terms of what has come before and what is occurring right now. I feel a bit overwhelmed trying to keep up to date with all of it. I’d much rather be writing than wrangling. There’s definitely a feeling the old guard are fighting to stay relevant. There’s a huge amount of sexist bullshit going on, but that’s really just a reflection of what is happening in society. I’d like to see genre be more inclusive and less the domain of straight, white males. We have lots of women editors and agents, so why not more authors?

As for my work – I’m not sure it’s up to me to declare or know where it fits, that’s for the readers, I guess.

What other projects are you working on, and what do you have currently in the pipeline?

I’m working on edits for book two of The Erebus Sequence, then I’ll be straight on to re-drafting book three, which I finished before Christmas. I may take a break from Landfall at that point to write something else (top secret, sorry). I do have two more Landfall stand alones plotted, and I’d love to write them if there is an audience.

WilliamsJ-CopperPromiseWhat are you reading at the moment (fiction, non-fiction)?

I’m reading Jen Williams’ The Copper Promise. We did an event together at Blackwell’s on 10th March.

What’s something readers might be surprised to learn about you?

I attended a performing arts school instead of going to sixth form or University. It was pretty much like the kids from Fame. I only danced professionally for a year, then stopped. These days I enjoy lindy hop, which is a style of 1940s swing dancing.

What are you most looking forward to in the next twelve months?

I should probably say the release of my first novel, but have you seen the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer? Also finishing book two of The Erebus Sequence.

Upcoming in 2014 from Gollancz

I kind of dropped the ball with my Gift Guides at the end of 2013. I would apologise, but that’s the beauty of running your own blog: you don’t answer to anyone. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of novels coming up in the first few months of 2014 that deserve some advance warning/notice, and I intend to share with you cover art and synopses (and anything else that might be of interest) as and when I can. Today, I highlight just a few of the novels coming up from Gollancz, that bastion of SFF quality and excellence.

HarrisJM-GospelOfLokiJoanne M. Harris, The Gospel of Loki

With his notorious reputation for trickery and deception, and an ability to cause as many problems as he solves, Loki is a Norse god like no other. Demon-born, he is viewed with deepest suspicion by his fellow gods who will never accept him as one of their own and for this he vows to take his revenge.

But while Loki is planning the downfall of Asgard and the humiliation of his tormentors, greater powers are conspiring against the gods and a battle is brewing that will change the fate of the Worlds.

From his recruitment by Odin from the realm of Chaos, through his years as the go-to man of Asgard, to his fall from grace in the build-up to Ragnarok, this is the unofficial history of the world’s ultimate trickster.

I shared this on Tumblr earlier today, but damn I love that cover, and I love the premise. In fact, I love it so much, that I also have another post coming up later this month that includes the cover again. I love Norse Mythology, and I have a feeling that Harris is going to do the source material proud and do something wonderful with it. Easily one of my most highly-anticipated novels of 2014.

Can. Not. Wait. Due to be published in February 2014.

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JacobsJH-TheIncorruptiblesJohn Hornor Jacobs, The Incorruptibles

In the contested and unexplored territories at the edge of the Empire, a boat is making its laborious way upstream. Riding along the banks are the mercenaries hired to protect it – from raiders, bandits and, most of all, the stretchers, elf-like natives who kill any intruders into their territory. The mercenaries know this is dangerous, deadly work. But it is what they do.

In the boat the drunk governor of the territories and his sons and daughters make merry. They believe that their status makes them untouchable. They are wrong. And with them is a mysterious, beautiful young woman, who is the key to peace between warring nations and survival for the Empire. When a callow mercenary saves the life of the Governor on an ill-fated hunting party, the two groups are thrown together.

For Fisk and Shoe – two tough, honourable mercenaries surrounded by corruption, who know they can always and only rely on each other – their young companion appears to be playing with fire. The nobles have the power, and crossing them is always risky. And although love is a wonderful thing, sometimes the best decision is to walk away. Because no matter how untouchable or deadly you may be, the stretchers have other plans.

Heard about this a little while ago, and I believe Mark Lawrence (Prince of Thorns) mentioned that he really enjoyed it. This is due to be published in June 2014.

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PatrickD-BoyWithThePorcelainBladeDen Patrick, The Boy With the Porcelain Blade

A world of betrayals and deceit. A hero alone. A delicate sword. A thrilling new fantasy from an exciting new voice.

An ornate yet dark fantasy, with echoes of Mervyn Peake, Robin Hobb and Jon Courtenay Grimwood. An original and beautifully imagined world, populated by unforgettable characters.

Lucien de Fontein has grown up different. One of the mysterious and misshapen Orfano who appear around the Kingdom of Landfall, he is a talented fighter yet constantly lonely, tormented by his deformity, and well aware that he is a mere pawn in a political game. Ruled by an insane King and the venomous Majordomo, it is a world where corruption and decay are deeply rooted – but to a degree Lucien never dreams possible when he first discovers the plight of the ‘insane’ women kept in the haunting Sanatoria.

Told in a continuous narrative interspersed with flashbacks we see Lucien grow up under the care of his tutors. We watch him forced through rigorous Testings, and fall in love, set against his yearning to discover where he comes from, and how his fate is tied to that of every one of the deformed Orfano in the Kingdom, and of the eerie Sanatoria itself.

That’s a really nice cover. Aside from that, it also sounds like a really interesting novel. I’ve met Den, and he was a very nice fellow. His Elf/Orc/Dwarf war manuals were quite fun, and it’ll be interesting to see what his fiction is like. I have high hopes for this. Due to be published in March 2014.

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These are three of the novels I most want to have read and on my shelves by the end of the year. There are, of course, more titles coming from Gollancz that I have my eye on, but these are just the ones I chose to highlight today. More to come over the year.