Saturday, 26 September 2009

Headin' over to Texas, y'all

This time tomorrow I'll be in Houston (actually I'll be in a plane over the US somewhere, but you get my drift) for the start of my US two (!!) tour.
Sooner or later, I'm going to wake up and discover my writing career was all a bit of a dream. The tour was as unexpected as the rest of it (the agent, the book deal, the parties, the dinners, the parties, the signings, the dinners) and it kind of makes you wonder 'how come Neil Gaiman's not fatter?" since he must have invites coming out of his nostrils.
Well, it is about the writing and, truth be told, the novelty hasn't worn off. In fact, Dark Goddess was more fun than Devil's Kiss. I went to Harriet's launch party on Thursday (did I mention the parties?) and met a good friend who's going through the doldrums, a tiny bit. Her book's not moving, she's spent ages on it, it's her third attempt and no joy.
QUIT. That's what she's thinking. QUIT! QUIT! QUIT!
Oh God, please don't! Any of you!
Everyone goes through it. You will want to give up (hell, there are times I've wanted to give up and the last was only a few weeks ago). Someone's sold for six figure sum, someone's got a three book deal with Bloomsburg (yes, Jon, not jealous at all!), they're out in hardback or tours or awards or whatever.
This isn't about writing, it's about doing something that means a lot to you, whatever it is. Society doesn't ask it of you, your friends, family, work mates don't understand why you waste all that time and effort, for what? You're not getting any younger, y'know.
Success means something, but so does failure. It means more.
At some point I will tell you about my fiorst media presentation, which wasn't that long ago. Inmitigated DISASTER. First I was following a well known media personality that had everyone clapping. Then I decided to go off-piste with my prepared speech (which was a bit crap anyway) only to discover that I was looking at a HUGE precipice. That I promptly went straight down.
Failure will happen. It's what makes us better. I'm quite looking forward to my next.

Though obviously I hope it doesn't happen in the next fortnight!

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Judge Dredd and 2000AD

Amongst the many literary heroes that have been inspirations and beacons in my writing career there's one that stands head and shoulders above the others.
I feel almost disloyal saying it (especially with the Christian Bale thing) BUT he's even better than Batman.
Judge Dredd.
We're not talking about the rather disappointing Stallone movie, but the original, in brutal 2D and black and white, comic character.
I read 2000AD all through the 1980's right into the 1990's until a stint abroad, left me out of sync and from that I've never recovered. I did not miss an issue in 14 years, bearing in mind the comic was a weekly, that's an awful lot of material I have in my loft.
2000AD is a science fiction comice that's produced som of the most amazing stories for a generation. We've had mutant bounty hunters kidnap Hitler. We've had genetically produced dinosaurs rampaging across a nuclear wasteland, devouring all in their path. Strontium Dog, Rogue Trooper, the Ballad of Halo Jones, Dredd of course, Robo-hunter. The list goes on and on. It's where Alan Moore cut his comic-writing teeth and where the gods of art (Bolland, McMahon, Kennedy, Ezquerra, Talbot to name a very few) produced weekly masterpieces back in the day of pen and ink.
The publishers, Rebellion, have produced a series of collected stories, charting the career of all the greats. The art is psychotic, the writing razor sharp, the attitude punk, the colours blackest of all.
Check it out.

Sunday, 13 September 2009


So, in two weeks time I'm flying over to the US (for the second time this year, excellent!).
Here's the list of bookshops I'll be visiting. This may change.
Monday, September 28 Time: 6:30 PM Murder By the Book 2342 Bissonnet Street Houston, Texas 77005 Phone: 713-524-8597
Wednesday, September 30 Time: TBD Watermark Books 4701 East Douglas Wichita, Kansas 67218 Phone: 316-682-1181
Monday, October 5 Time: TBD Anderson’s Bookstore 123 West Jefferson Naperville, IL 60540 Phone: 630-355-2665
Tuesday October 6 Time: 6:00 PMDavis-Kidd Booksellers2121 Green Hills Village DrNashville, TN 37215Phone: 615-385-2645
Thursday, October 8 Time: 5:00 PM Books of Wonder 18 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011 Store Phone: 212-989-3270
Friday, October 9 Time: 6:30 PM Clinton Book Shop33 Main StreetClinton, NJ 08809Phone: 908-735-8811
If you're around, please come by and say hello! Bring many friends and relatives. Otherwise it'll all be a bit lonely.
There's various other events, schools, libraries and such but they are 'non'-public events (does that make sense?). I've not quite sorted out the school events as such but they should involve a bit of swordfighting. It will either be great fun or all end horribly with hospital visits.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Goodies! Many of them!!

It just goes to show how darn DEDICATED I am to my blogging that, within minutes of getting home from holidays, here I am. Well, the other reason is that the rest of the house is (literally) a huge building site. But, did I have a bunch of goodies waiting for me when we stumbled through the door and thought, "Gosh, that wasn't the colour we agreed for the halls/stairs/landing/bedroom/kitchen/playroom/study/conservation/west wing/attic/north wing/swimming pool/helicopter landing pad."

Anyway, you're not interested in the domestic stuff, so...

Welcome to the Goody Room!

So, I've been pondering how better to embrace the wonders of the Internet and all that. Now, rather than shoot off these gifts to who knows where, we'll do this as a sort of vague get to know me get to know you thing. The names will go in a hat. I will pick three. They will contact me. I will send them one of the following:

1. Devil's Kiss hardback. It still has that fresh new book smell. Yummy.

2. Devil's Kiss CD

3.Devil's Kiss MP3 disc.

4. A critique, by me, of their current first three chapters. (Though what the hell do I know, so I think you'll be up on items 1-3, but people have asked).

How to go in the top hat? A grading system is in operation. You score the points, and points make prizes.

+2 if you follow me on the blog

+1 if you link to my blog

+2 if you're on the newsletter

+1 if you follow me on Twitter

+1 if you follow devilskissbook on Twitter

-1 if I've sent you a book already! I have a list of names and will check!!

+2 if you want a copy to review on your blog (I will demand proof or blacklist you FOREVAH!)

+1 if, on this blog, you publically forgive Christian Bale for his rant. (Chris, I'm still your No.1 fan, see?)

+1 if you want the critique (hey, it saves me postage)

-10 if your name is John Mayhew.

The competition ends the last of this month. I'll inform the three winners sometime early October. Fair enough?

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Billi's ancestors

I know there's a trend to draw elaborate histories to fictional characters. Long family trees that go way back and show how everyone's related to evil Aunt Edna and the such.
So, in the same spirit as Tolkien and Rowlings, I've decided to fill you in on how Billi came about. What's more is I'm going way, way back.
Conan the Barbarian is probably the first recognisable ancestor of Billi SanGreal. I loved the old Frazetta covers and spent many an hour trying vainly to copy them. Some of you may know I started my storytelling career by writing my own roleplaying adventures. Well, most of them were variations of some Conan story or another. Beyond the Black River really sticks in my mind as being, perhaps, the definitive Conan tale. The dark hair, the deep broooding nature, the skill with the sword. The haircut. Billi inherited all these from the somber Cimmerian.
Okay, jumping forward a few millenia and we've got some Mongol horde in there, the odd Norseman (from the dad's side) and maybe some mysterious Bedouin from the deserts of Arabia. We alight on English shores, mid-late twelfth century, in Sherwood. Okay, she's got a dash of Robin of Loxley, that's for sure. Again from the dad's side there's the old Robin of Sherwood series from the early 1980's. Each generation has his or her Robin and mine was Michael Praed. What's more is the coolest character was Nazir, an Assassin. Doubly cool is that he and I have the same middle name. He fought with two scimitars, was the best swordsman and a man of few words. his actions spoke for him. On second thoughts, maybe Billi's descended more from him rather than Robin.
Into the early 19th Century and we've Napoleon on the map. Pretty much all over it, in fact. Richard Sharpe, English thug and hero of the Napoleonic wars is certainly a template of Billi and (more so) Arthur. He battles for his country, one that doesn't think much of him, and really struggles with what it's all about. He's good at what he does, so does it. In honour of Sharpe I have established that the SanGreal name was one amongst the staff of officers who fought for Napoleon at Waterloo. A cavalryman, because they were cool. The writer of the Sharpe novels, Bernard Cornwell, is a major influence on my writing.
What of the female line, I hear you ask? The Rani of Jhansi. An Indian queen who fought against the British as was very much India's Boudiccia. Billi's got South Asian blood so the old queen's spirit is certainly alive in her.
So, there you have it. Billi's evolution.