Archive for category Books
I am delighted to be able to share the new cover for Strangeness and Charm 3rd edition. As some of you may know, Alex is probably my favourite character from the series and this is her book. I wanted something that would reflect her emergence into adulthood with all the snags and spurs that brings.
Alex looked down. Around her arms, strange vines and coloured leaves emerged in patterns on her flesh, winding down to emerge in coiled tangles around her wrists. There strange buds emerged, dark and shiny.
Strangeness and Charm, the third in The Courts of the Feyre series will be released in the next week or so.
The new covers continue to expand the series with the The Road to Bedlam on release very shortly exhibiting a distinctly nautical theme. If you look carefully you can see the edge of the old Bethlem Hospital where it stood on the edge of Moor Fields in the background. Exactly how the coastal theme and the infamous hospital come together can only be discovered by following Niall’s second adventure.
In some ways Bedlam is the darkest of the four books, with emerging themes of loss and grief layered over a missing persons mystery and a plot to finally resolve the conflict between the Seventh Court and the Gifted. It was intended to be a multi-threaded story that explored Niall’s new role as a Warder and his continuing conflict with Raffmir.
That conflict will reach a climax as the mystery of Bedlam is revealed and the dark plots of the Seventh Court reach fulfilment under the solstice sky.
I am delighted to announce that from today you can purchase Sixty-One Nails from Amazon Kindle. The book will be available from other sources, but this is the first step to getting the books back in circulation. There will be more news on the other books in due course as work is already in process to get those published and available too.
Amazon Kindle 3rd Edition: Sixty-One Nails
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By now many of you may have noticed that the books have been temporarily withdrawn.
This is a consequence of the publisher, Angry Robot Books (ARB), going into administration, which is a tale in itself and I won’t go into detail, but the rights to the books reverted back to me as author at the end of 2014. The company that bought some of the assets and business of Angry Robot were allowed to continue to sell the remaining stock up until the middle of 2015, which they did.
When the rights reverted, I lost the rights to the editions produced by Angry Robot which left me with the original manuscripts. That has meant re-editing all four books over the past year so that they are ready for re-publication. In the absense of a traditional publisher, I have decided to publish the books electronically through my own company, Shevdon Limited. On the plus side it meant I could finally address the eBook formatting issues which were introduced when ARB used the edition formatted for print to prodiuce the eBooks, so these are editions designed for e-publication.
Unfortunately, when I lost the rights to the print edit, I also lost the rights to John Coulthart’s wonderful covers, which meant taking a fresh look at those too. I am pleased to present the new cover for Sixty-One Nails, which will be released in the new third edition in March.
More cover previews will follow as the books are ready for release.
In Chapter Eight of Sixty-One Nails, my protagonist, Niall, is sitting at the corner of St Martin’s Lane in London. The Chapter opens with the lines:
I sat for an hour or more before people started walking across the square, heading towards work or some other rendezvous, and it lost its privacy. I was getting chilled so I wandered back the way I had come to find the coffee shop had opened. I ordered black coffee and added sugar before taking it outside. I sat among the deserted tables in the damp air and waited for Blackbird. On the war memorial across the pavement from me I could read the words ‘Humanity’ and ‘Sacrifice’. I hoped it wasn’t an omen.
The memorial Niall refers to is a stone monument to Edith Clavell, and on each side it reads, Humanity, Devotion, Fortitude and Sacrifice. There is a stone statue of Edith at the fore with an inscription that reads:
Brussels – Dawn
October 12th 1915
Patriotism is not enough
I must have no hatred or
bitterness for anyone.
These are her words to an Anglican priest on the night before her execution.
Edith was a nurse, born in Swardeston in Norfolk, she served in Belgium in the Great War, treating allies and enemies alike because they were wounded and needed help. She did not judge people for what they did, or how they saw the world, but only offered them comfort and compassion. She helped some 200 allied soldiers, French, British and Belgian, escape from German-occupied Belgium into the Netherlands and thence to Britain where they were welcomed as refugees.
For helping people escape, she was arrested, imprisoned, court-martialled, and shot by a firing squad on 12th October 1915, 100 years ago today. She was 49. Her remains were recovered and re-interred in Norwich Cathedral, where she is still honoured today.
She was a great woman. Even today as a country we could learn from her example.
Rest in Peace.
I haven’t been doing book reviews on this site; I’ve been posting them on GoodReads and I’ve generally reviewed favorite books. There is always room for change, though, and this is a little different because (a) it’s a review of Urban Fantasy, and (b) it’s a book by someone I’ve met.
The meeting is a story in itself. Back in 2009 when Sixty-One Nails was first published I was working in London quite close to Covent Garden. The first book in the Courts of the Feyre series features that area quite strongly, partly because I knew it well. I have paced along many of the paths traced in the book, though it has changed somewhat since that time. Given that the main character in the book practically walked past the door of Waterstones Bookshop on New Row, I felt it was appropriate that they should stock the book, especially for those readers wanting something local but also something different from the usual ghost tours and old London books. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
So being the brazen self-promoter that I am, I went in and introduced myself to the staff, explaining that I wanted to speak to the person responsible for SF and Fantasy. I was politely told that he wasn’t in that day but that if I called in another day I should ask for Ben. A couple of days later I returned and was introduced to a large guy who met my enquiries with a strangely bemused look – yes, he knew what urban fantasy was, no he didn’t know about my book, yes he would accept a copy from me. It was a short meeting, but I pressed the book into his hand and felt that my work was done.
What I didn’t know was that the guy in Waterstones had just started work on his own urban fantasy, and was ten thousand words into his opener, Rivers of London. The other side of that story is here, at Ben’s website: The Folly. I have been asked on numerous occasions if I knew of Ben’s work, and had to admit guiltily that I had not read it, but having finally finished The Courts of the Feyre, I was determined to catch up on some reading and this was top of my list.
It’s a good read. If you haven’t caught up with Ben’s work by now, then you probably should. Certainly if you are here and reading this article and like the mix of history and fiction in my work, then you will not be disappointed by Ben’s story.
Like me, Ben writes in the real world, but his is the world of policemen and crime scenes, mixed with wizardry and genius loci – the spirits of place that come to embody a sense of belonging. His characters are strong and likeable – his hero, Peter Grant is someone you would be glad to meet and get to know. The character’s humour is infectious and his indefatigable optimism becomes a driving force in the story – you just can’t keep a good guy down. Contrast this with Mike Carey’s Felix Castor (another favorite) and you see two sides to the same coin – one darkly sardonic, the other an irrepressible optimist. Both work, but for entirely different reasons.
I liked the initial motivation to become involved in supernatural crime – it’s that or the case progression unit (the desk job) – this sets the rookie police officer Peter on a path that is only partly revealed in this book. There is so much left unexplained, which for me is an attraction. It left me wanting to know more about this character and the world he is only beginning to know. In this sense there is a parallel with my own work, in that you discover the world through Peter’s eyes and it is revealed as he finds it, as we do with Niall in Sixty-One Nails. We benefit from his knowledge and suffer with his mistakes. It’s a great way to expose magic in the real world and it works well.
There are now three other books in the series – Moon Over Soho, Whispers Underground and, released at the end of July 2013, Broken Homes, and while I have not caught up with the full series yet I think it’s safe to say that they will be well worth reading – I look forward to it.
A final word – thanks to Ben for being okay about the strange man who pressed a novel into his hand that day. It was good to meet you and I hope we’ll get the opportunity to renew our acquaintance soon.
Some of you may be aware that the deadlines for The Eighth Court were very tight, and an extension was needed to get the book to where it needed to be. I am immensely grateful to my Editor, Lee Harris, for his patience and understanding while all this was going on. He’s a star, and he gave me the time I needed.
Unfortunately, that didn’t leave Lee much time to get everything done for the release date, and when things get pressured mistakes can be made – in this case, the acknowledgements and end-notes for The Eighth Court were missed and the paper version went to press without them. This is not so bad in the case of the electronic versions – they are being updated and if you delete the book and reload it you should get the newly uploaded version. I’m not sure exactly when this will happen, as it’s down to the eBook Store concerned when it gets updated, but it’s being worked on and the update is in progress.
The paper version is much more difficult as it’s been type-set and it’s really difficult to change once that has happened. However, we live in the age of the Internet and there are things we can do. If you go to the following address, you will find the End-Notes and the Acknowledgements for The Eighth Court.
Apologies that they are not in the back of the paper version – all I can say is that these things happen and, through the miracle of technology, we can still make them available.
I hope they will add to your enjoyment of the conclusion of Niall’s story.