New Books (September-October)

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Featuring: Gillian Anderson, Johanna Basford, Jim Butcher, Susan Dennard, David Ellis, Allen Eskens, Richard Ford, Emily Foster, Nick Frost, Neil Gaiman, Louise Hall, Amie Kaufman, Emma Kavanagh, Jay Kristoff, Ann Leckie, Alison Littlewood, Will McIntosh, David Mitchell, Sam Munson, Paul Murray, Linda Nagata, James Patterson, Jeff Rovin, Salman Rushdie, John Seabrook, David Tallerman, Adrian J. Walker, Scott Westerfeld, David Wong

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[Yes, those GIFs have nothing to do with books. So?] Continue reading

New Books (April-May)

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Featuring: Kate Atkinson, Jenny T. Colgan, Sebastien de Castell, Jeffery Deaver, Nelson DeMille, Katie Disabato, Richard Ford, Jonathan Freedland, S.L. Grey, Charlaine Harris, Aleksandar Hemon, Chris Holm, Jason LePier, Duff McKagan, Todd Moss, K.J. Parker, Joe Perry, John Sandford, Stephanie Saulter, Stefan Spjut, Sabaa Tahir, Dan Wells, Robert Charles Wilson Continue reading

Upcoming: LORD OF ASHES by Richard Ford (Headline)

Spotted the cover for Richard Ford‘s third Steelhaven novel, Lord of Ashes, on Twitter and thought I’d share it and the synopsis on here:

The third novel in Richard Ford’s magificent fantasy series has enough thrills, valour, guts and glory to satisy any die-fard fan of David Gemmell and Joe Abercrombie.

FIGHT TO THE DEATH…

The queen of Steelhaven has grown in strength. Taking up her dead father’s sword, she must defend the city from the dread warlord Amon Tugha and his blood-thirsty army now at the gates. A vicious, unrelenting four-day battle ensues, the most perilous yet.

…OR BOW TO THE ENEMY

No side is immune from danger as all hell breaks loose, with the threat of coups and the unleashing of the deadliest and darkest magick. Loyalty, strength and cunning will be put to test in the quest for victory. What fate awaits the free states?

Published in the UK by Headline in October 2015, Lord of Ashes follows Herald of the Storms and The Shattered Crown.

A quick Q&A with RICHARD FORD

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A while back, I posted a quick “Upcoming” blog about Richard Ford’s new gritty fantasy, Herald of the Storm. It sounded pretty cool. So, naturally, I wanted to interview Richard. He was kind enough to say yes, and so, in advance of my review of the novel (coming soon), here are Richard’s answers…

Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Richard Ford?

Richard Ford is a thirty-something bloke from the gritty north who has, in recent years, become a bit of southern softie. He also writes stuff on occasion, in the hope that someone will read it, and possibly even like it.

He is definitely not the other Richard Ford, who writes literary fiction in the classic American tradition and wins Pulitzers.

I thought we’d start with your fiction: Your latest novel, Herald of the Storm, was recently published by Headline. How would you introduce the novel to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

Herald of the Storm is the first book in the Steelhaven trilogy – an epic fantasy focusing on the lives of several disparate characters as they try and survive in the grim port of Steelhaven – a city on the brink of destruction. To put it more succinctly: it’s David Gemmel’s Legend meets HBO’s The Wire!

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

Jealousy and envy are my main motivations. I’ve read quite a bit of epic fantasy and been blown away by it. Naturally I wanted to write my own, but make it grittier, bloodier and more potty-mouthed than anyone else’s. I think I’m pretty much there.

As for inspiration – I find I draw influences from everything and everywhere, be it other novels, films, comics, TV or even the news. Best place for gags or convincing dialogue is undoubtedly in the pub, and I’ll fight anyone who says different.

How were you introduced to genre fiction?

HillD-LastLegionaryQuartetMy earliest regular taste of genre fiction came from 2000 AD back in the early ’80s, closely followed by Douglas Hill’s Last Legionary novels. I was also massively influenced by the choose-your-own-adventure books of Joe Dever and Ian Livingstone and later Weiss and Hickman’s Dragonlance series.

How do you enjoy being a writer and working within the publishing industry? Do you have any specific working, writing, researching practices?

It’s what I’ve always wanted to do, so I shouldn’t complain really. I do complain though – long and loud. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who isn’t comfortable spending hours and hours in their own company with the constant shadow of self-doubt looming over them.

Being rather ill-disciplined and having the attention span of a Labrador puppy, I have to be quite methodical about the way I work. Everything is plotted out quite intricately and I have a daily word count target, which I almost always fail to hit.

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 used to write and illustrate my own comics when I was a kid. It soon became clear I had all the illustration skills of a battered cod, so prose fiction was probably the way to go. It wasn’t until I got some decent feedback from a schoolteacher – Mr. Bontoft – when I was around 11 that I started to think seriously about doing it for a living (before that, I was on track to be an astronaut). Unfortunately, when I left Mr. Bontoft’s class all the positive acclaim ended, and I lost interest in it for quite a few years.

Everyone’s a critic, I suppose.

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

I think the genre’s never been stronger, and choice for readers never more diverse. There’s been a bit of an online buzz that the grittier writers are steering fantasy away from its origins, but I just don’t buy that – read some R.E. Howard and tell me it’s not gritty. I think my work sits firmly on the back seat of the fantasy bus with all the other cool kids, but that’s not to say I don’t appreciate the nice kids at the front.

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

Work on book two in the Steelhaven trilogy continues apace. I’ve nicknamed it The-Book-That-Will-Not-Die, but I’ll slay it eventually, you just see if I don’t!

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

I’ve just finished The String Diaries by the brilliant Stephen Lloyd Jones (and I’m not just saying that because we share a publisher), and I’m about to start The Steel Remains by Richard K Morgan.

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

I once locked myself out of a hotel room stark naked, in true Frank Spencer style.

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

Hopefully I’ll have finished work on Steelhaven Three and the immense pressure and feelings of anxiety I currently experience on an hourly basis will have abated.

Oh, and the endless riches my writing will inevitably bring. I’m quite looking forward to that.

*

Herald of the Storm is out now, published by Headline.

What Should I Read Next…?

I’m incredibly indecisive when it comes to picking my next read. Usually. There are times, of course, when nothing is going to stop me reading a particular book. (Most recently, that was the case with Peter V. Brett’s The Daylight War, despite my intended wish to mix things up  a bit more… I loved it, so it worked out in the end. Later in the year, it’ll be Scott Lynch’s Republic of Thieves.)

I currently find myself in one of these moments of indecisiveness. Here are the options (followed, after the break, but synopses):

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Richard Ford’s Herald of the Storm (Headline)

Welcome to Steelhaven…

Under the reign of King Cael the Uniter, this vast cityport on the southern coast has for years been a symbol of strength, maintaining an uneasy peace throughout the Free States.

But now a long shadow hangs over the city, in the form of the dread Elharim warlord, Amon Tugha. When his herald infiltrates the city, looking to exploit its dangerous criminal underworld, and a terrible dark magick that has long been buried once again begins to rise, it could be the beginning of the end.

Robert Jackson Bennett’s American Elsewhere (Orbit)

Some places are too good to be true.

Under a pink moon, there is a perfect little town not found on any map.

In that town, there are quiet streets lined with pretty houses, houses that conceal the strangest things.

After a couple years of hard traveling, ex-cop Mona Bright inherits her long-dead mother’s home in Wink, New Mexico. And the closer Mona gets to her mother’s past, the more she understands that the people of Wink are very, very different…

From one of our most talented and original new literary voices comes the next great American supernatural novel: a work that explores the dark dimensions of the hometowns and the neighbours we thought we knew.

Benjamin Percy’s Red Moon (Hodder)

They live among us.

They are your neighbour, your mother, your lover.

They change.

Every teenage girl thinks she’s different. When government agents kick down Claire Forrester’s front door and murder her parents, Claire realizes just how different she is.

Patrick Gamble was nothing special until the day he got on a plane and hours later stepped off it, the only passenger left alive, a hero.

President Chase Williams has sworn to protect the people of the United States from the menace in their midst, but is becoming the very thing he has promised to destroy.

So far the threat has been controlled by laws and violence and drugs. But the night of the red moon is coming, when an unrecognizable world will emerge, and the battle for humanity will begin.

Joe Hill’s NOS-4R2 (Gollancz)

Summer. Massachusetts.

An old Silver Wraith with a frightening history. A story about one serial killer and his lingering, unfinished business.

Anyone could be next.

We’re going to Christmasland…

NOS4A2 is an old-fashioned horror novel in the best sense. Claustrophobic, gripping and terrifying, this is a story that will have you on the edge of the seat while you read, and leaving the lights on while you sleep. With the horrific tale of Charles Manx and his Silver Wraith, Joe Hill has established himself as the premiere horror and supernatural thriller writer of his generation.

C. Robert Cargill’s Dreams and Shadows (Gollancz)

DREAMS AND SHADOWS takes us beyond the veil, through the lives of Ewan and Colby, young men whose spirits have been enmeshed with the otherworld from a young age.

This brilliantly-crafted narrative follows the boys from their star-crossed adolescences to their haunted adulthoods; and takes us inside the Limestone Kingdom, a parallel universe where whisky-swilling genies and foul-mouthed wizards argue over the state of the metaphysical realm. Having left the spirit world and returned to the human world, Ewan and Colby discover that the creatures from this previous life have not forgotten them, and that fate can never be sidestepped.

Of course, I may ignore all of your suggestions anyway, but it will nevertheless be interesting to see what you would like to feature on the site.

It’s also my 30th birthday this coming Friday, and I’m hoping for some Amazon vouchers, so I can get Kindle editions of the third book in Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghosts series and also Joe Abercrombie’s Last Argument of Kings (have become a bit of a fanboy for this series, now…),* so those will likely follow shortly after whichever choice I make from this selection.

Which would you recommend? If you can find the comments, please do leave your suggestions. (Apparently, some browsers are having a difficult time with the new blog template, but I can’t figure out how to fix this or change it back… Apologies about that.)

* Review of Before They Are Hanged tomorrow.