Guest Post & Excerpt: “Making of the Prologue” by David Hair, author of HEARTS OF ICE (Jo Fletcher Books)

HairD-SQ3-HeartsOfIceUKFirst up, I’m a planner: The Sunsurge Quartet is mapped out from start to finish, before I start writing Book One. That includes the Prologues, which I’m using (along with mid-book ‘Interludes’) to introduce the backstory and current status of the villain who’s going to feature most in the next part of the story. They give the reader a chance to see inside the enemy’s heads, and set the agenda for the coming chapters.

In this series, the main villains are part of a cabal trying to tear down human society, and they use theatre masks to disguise their true selves. I was inspired in this by Venetian carnival masques, of which I have a bit of a collection after going mad in a Venice mask shop. I invented my own mask designs and a backstory for them, using the concept of a tradition of morality tales that theatre troupes adlib on stage, every show unique. These can be high art or low farce, always with the same eight characters and central theme – a romance between Ironhelm (the sturdy knight) and Heartface (the innocent maid). Their love is aided or thwarted by the other six characters: the meddling Beak, the prankster Jest, the duplicitous Twoface, the lucky Felix, the nemesis-like Angelstar and the sorrowful Tear. The tale is narrated by a narrator known as the Puppeteer. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE LAST by Hanna Jameson (Penguin/Atria)

JamesonH-TheLastUK2An excellent post-apocalyptic mystery novel

BREAKING: Nuclear weapon detonates over Washington

Historian Jon Keller is on a trip to Switzerland when the world ends. As the lights go out on civilisation, he wishes he had a way of knowing whether his wife, Nadia, and their two daughters are still alive. More than anything, Jon wishes he hadn’t ignored Nadia’s last message.

Twenty people remain in Jon’s hotel. Far from the nearest city and walled in by towering trees, they wait, they survive.

Then one day, the body of a young girl is found. It’s clear she has been murdered. Which means that someone in the hotel is a killer.

As paranoia descends, Jon decides to investigate. But how far is he willing to go in pursuit of justice? And what kind of justice can he hope for, when society as he knows it no longer exists?

It’s been some time since I last read a post-apocalyptic novel, after what felt like a glut in the early 2010s (some of them excellent, but ultimately I think I read too many). Hanna Jameson’s The Last received a fair bit of pre-publication buzz, and I was happy to interview the author. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into The Last, but what I found was an excellent, thought-provoking and quite gripping mystery. I very much enjoyed this. Continue reading

Upcoming: DRAGON HEART by Peter Higgins (Gollancz)

HigginsP-DragonHeartUKI haven’t read as much of Peter Higgins‘s work as I would like. I really enjoyed his debut, Wolfhound Century, though, and have always meant to read more of his work (so many books, so little time…). Gollancz recently unveiled the cover for the author’s next novel: Dragon Heart. A novel “[f]or readers of Cormac McCarthy and Justin Cronin”, it is pitched as “the story of one family’s battle for survival in a world where evil has already won”. Here’s the synopsis:

As they fight their way across a dying land, Shay and Cass will do anything to keep their daughter, Hope, alive. The family faces unimaginable dangers as they try to stay together, and stay alive, long enough to reach safety. But when the heart of a dragon starts to beat in Hope’s chest, they fear they’ll lose her to a battle they can’t possibly help her win…

Dragon Heart is due to be published by Gollancz in early January 2019.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Excerpt: DAYFALL by Michael David Ares (Tor)

AresMD-DayfallToday, we have an excerpt from Michael David Ares‘s new novel, Dayfall. Published by Tor Books, here’s the synopsis…

FEAR THE DAY

In the near future, patches of the northern hemisphere have been shrouded in years of darkness from a nuclear winter, and the water level has risen in the North Atlantic. The island of Manhattan has lost its outer edges to flooding and is now ringed by a large seawall.

The darkness and isolation have allowed crime and sin to thrive in the never-ending shadows of the once great city, and when the sun finally begins to reappear, everything gets worse. A serial killer cuts a bloody swath across the city during the initial periods of daylight, and a violent panic sweeps through crowds on the streets. The Manhattan police, riddled with corruption and apathy, are at a loss.

That’s when the Mayor recruits Jon Phillips, a small-town Pennsylvania cop who had just single-handedly stopped a high-profile serial killer in his own area, and flies him into the insanity of this new New York City. The young detective is partnered with a shady older cop and begins to investigate the crimes amidst the vagaries of a twenty-four hour nightlife he has never experienced before. Soon realizing that he was chosen for reasons other than what he was told, Jon is left with no one to trust and forced to go on the run in the dark streets, and below them in the maze of the underground. Against all odds he still hopes that he can save his own life, the woman of his dreams, and maybe even the whole city before the arrival of the mysterious and dreaded event that has come to be known as… DAYFALL.

Read on for the excerpt…

Continue reading

Upcoming: MOTHERLAND by Lauren Beukes (Mulholland)

BeukesL-MotherlandUSI’m a big fan of Lauren Beukes‘s novels, so I was very excited to learn about her upcoming book, Motherland. Due to be published by Mulholland Books in April 2019 (so far away!), it sounds really interesting:

This is America, but not like you know it. Years after the decimation of the male population by a super-virus, the country has refashioned itself with new laws, new customs, and new methods of shame and punishment. Now, hiding a living and healthy male is one of the gravest offenses, rivaled only by the murder of a man. Cole is a mother on the run, guilty of both crimes, and desperate to find a safe life for her adolescent boy Miles.

As the two drift throughout the transformed states of the West, they hide Miles’ identity while evading a mysterious, powerful man bent on justice. From a commune in the Rockies to a high security laboratory in the redwoods of northern California, the two tensely negotiate an existence on the fringes of a new America.

Cole’s goal for her son and herself is escape, a family in South Africa, a slim chance at a better life. Mother and child see their chance, at last, in the wanderings and secret goals of a cult — if only Cole can keep Miles’ true self hidden, and as long as they can stay one step ahead of an ex-boyfriend from hell.

If you can’t wait that long, I’d highly recommend The Shining GirlsBroken Monsters and the graphic novel Survivors’ Club.

Also on CR: Reviews of The Shining Girls and Broken Monsters

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: RAVENCRY by Ed McDonald (Ace/Gollancz)

McDonaldE-2-Ravencry

This is the sequel to Ed McDonald‘s very well-received debut, Blackwing. Featuring a bleak, grimdark post-apocalyptic world and an interesting magic system and cast of characters, I’m quite looking forward to continuing Galharrow’s story. Ravencry is due to be published by Ace Books (US) and Gollancz (UK), here’s the synopsis:

For Ryhalt Galharrow, working for Crowfoot as a Blackwing captain is about as bad as it gets — especially when his orders are garbled, or incoherent, or impossible to carry out.

The Deep Kings are hurling fire from the sky, a ghost in the light known only as the Bright Lady had begun to manifest in visions across the city, and the cult that worship her grasp for power while the city burns around them.

Galharrow may not be able to do much about the cult – or about strange orders from the Nameless — but when Crowfoot’s arcane vault is breached and an object of terrible power is stolen, he’s propelled into a race against time to recover it. Only to do that, he needs answers, and finding them means travelling into nightmare: to the very heart of the Misery.

Also on CR: Interview with Ed McDonald (2017)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Interview with TYRELL JOHNSON

JohnsonT-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Tyrell Johnson?

Well, my Twitter bio says I’m a father, husband, writer, editor, and donkey trainer. So at least a few of those things MUST be true.

Your new novel, The Wolves of Winter, will be published by HQ this month. It looks rather fabulous: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

It’s a post-apocalyptic thriller about a young woman surviving in the Yukon wilderness with her family. When she encounters a strange man in the wilderness, his dark past calls her to a role she never imagined. I’d love to announce that it’s part of a series, but since nothing is “in the books” yet, I don’t want to jump the gun. Continue reading