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FantasyCon 2015

I will be at FantasyCon this weekend at the East Midlands Conference Centre, Nottingham, catching up with old friends and hopefully making new ones.

On Friday at 6pm in Suite 1 I will be discussing Fae-Fi, Folk-Fum: Faerie & Folktale and the influences of folk-lore on Urban Fantasy in particular and on fiction in general, with moderator Alison Littlewood, along with Charlotte Bond, Victoria Leslie, and the lovely Emma Newman. Sounds like fun.

I’ll be around most of the weekend, so do come and say hello if you are going.

 

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Visionarium – An Interview in German

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Bernhard Reicher for VISIONARIUM issue 3 recently, and if you would like to read the interview (and you read German) you can find it here:

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VISIONARIUM

The Kindle-version is available at: http://www.amazon.de/dp/B00N5SETYC/
The printed version is available at: http://www.amazon.de/dp/1500836028/

We talk about influences and inspirations, the source of stories, methods and magic. There were some interesting questions there and it was fun to do.

Take a look and see.

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EasterCon – Glasgow 2014

Glasgow Science Museum

Glasgow Science Museum

This year’s EasterCon, Satellite 4, was held by the banks of the Clyde in Glasgow over the Easter weekend. This was my first time in Glasgow and as is the way with conventions I didn’t get to see much of the city other than the area around the convention hotel. Having said that, everyone was very friendly and it would be a city I would go back to and explore without hesitation. The convention itself was well-organised and ran smoothly – clearly a lot of work had gone into the preparation and I would like to add my thanks to the many people involved in running the convention.

For me it was a chance to catch up with friends and colleagues and to meet people for the first time. It was particularly nice to meet those who have read my work and took a moment to let me know they’d enjoyed it. Writing is generally a solitary activity and to realise that your work has made a connection with someone is very rewarding – especially as they are such nice people.

View of the Clyde

View of the Clyde

In terms of programming, I participated in a panel discussion on different styles of fantasy, which was fun and interesting. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, including the panel, so that was good. I especially enjoyed the presentations of two visitors to the convention, Andy Miah from the University of the West of Scotland, and Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell.

Andy presented on the subject of enhanced humans, either by mechanical, biological, chemical or genetic means, and what was stunning about his presentation was not how much could be done, but how much of it was current. I was expecting him to be talking about things that might happen in the future, but most of what he was presenting is perfectly possible now, and may actually already have been done. Andy clearly knows his subject well and is a gifted presenter, and his presentation was excellent.

BBC Scotland Reflection

BBC Scotland Reflection

 

Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell is a former President of the Royal Astronomical Society and was President of the Institute of Physics. She is also lots of fun, really interesting to listen to and an inspirational speaker. Her presentation was on new developments in astronomy, a subject that until then I’d though was relatively well understood and quite static. How wrong I was. Dame Jocelyn mostly talked about transients, things which move around in the heavens and which have been difficult to study because the sensitivity to track something in the heavens that is moving around  has only recently become available. These are important not just because they enhance our understanding of our universe, but also because there is evidence that from time to time large objects crash into the Earth causing damage on a catastrophic scale.

She also talked about mysterious things called whistlers that that are intermittent and fleeting – pulses of radiation that have crossed intergalactic space. This is cutting edge astronomy and we are only beginning to theorise on what might be the cause of such intense bursts of energy. Dame Jocelyn has the gift  of making her subject accessible, understandable and inspiring. If you get the opportunity to hear her speak then I highly recommend it.

So overall Satellite 4 was a successful weekend for me personally and for the convention in general, and I hope I will get to visit the lovely City of Glasgow again soon.

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Signing at Waterstones Bedford and Promotion

Waterstones Logo

Waterstones Bookshop

The lovely people at Waterstones in Bedford have allowed me to take over a small part of their shop this Saturday 30th November so I can sign books. I will be in the shop from about 10:45 onwards with copies of all 4 books in the Courts of the Feyre series available – at least until we sell them all.

To tempt you to come along, I will be giving away a free signed copy of Sixty-One Nails to the first five people who come into the shop and give me the codeword, “DOGSTAR”. Come early because they will go quite quickly.

In any case, come along and say ‘Hi’. If you want to bring along your existing copies, I will be glad to sign those too. Bear in mind that I will be sporting my Movember Moustache in all its glory.

See you there!

 

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Wood Green Literary Festival 2013

On Saturday 12th October I will be at Wood Green Literary Festival, along with Anne Lyle, author of the Night’s Masque series, and together we will be discussing Mad and Magical London – the London of the unknown and the unseen, and the London of magical and mysterious history.

Our Books

Anne and I will be happy to sign books, or just chat about London, fantasy, writing and books. Latest information is that we will be in Wood Green Library, but that may change, so keep an eye on the festival website for latest information.

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Review: Rivers of London – Ben Aaronovich

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.

Rivers of London

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.

 

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EasterCon 2013 – EightSquared Bradford

I’ll be in Bradford for Easter weekend for the 64th EasterCon and I’m thoroughly looking forward to the event. I have a number of sessions programmed throughout the weekend – see below for details:

Friday 29th March

  • 6:00 PM – Avalon, Sherwood Forest and Alderley Edge: The Magical British Countryside
    • How does the landscape of Britain affect stories set in it? Where does the magic lurk, and how does it inspire writers? Sue Mason moderates Tiffani Angus, Anne Sudworth, Mike Shevdon and Freda Warrington.
  • 9:00 PM – Underground London
    • Take one London. Add magical society hidden from most people. Mix in famous places from the city, and optionally garnish with police procedural. Why is this such a great recipe? With Paul Cornell, Roz Kaveney, Anne Lyle, Simon Morden and Mike Shevdon.

Saturday 30th March

  • Genre Get-Together – Fantasy
    • A chance to meet the authors, get books signed and chat about books, stories and other stuff.

Sunday March 31st

  • Author Readings
    • I will be reading from The Eight Court, along with the lovely Emma Newman who will (I hope) be reading from her new book – Between Two Thorns.

If you would like a book signed or just to say hello, I will be around the convention for most of the weekend. There are a host of events, panels, games and discussions with plenty to do throughout the weekend.

If you’re at the event, please come and say Hi – it’s always nice to meet new friends. See you there!

 

 

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