Having been tagged by Suzanne McLeod in this meme, it’s my turn to babble about what’s coming up in my little writing life. So once you’ve read this, go check out her books, starting here.

  1. What is the working title of your next book?

Moon’s Artifice – well, The God Tattoo is coming out next, but it’s a collection of short stories I wrote ages ago so doesn’t really count.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

You’d think I’d know, wouldn’t you? Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten. Seriously, not a fucking clue…

I first wrote about 50k of Moon in 2004-ish after I’d revised Stormcaller and was waiting for responses from agents about it. I was giving up on ever getting anywhere with the finished book and thought it was time I started something else, chalking Stormcaller up to being valuable experience and practice. And then I got an agent, then a publisher, and Moon fell by the wayside for seven years.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Fantasy – but where exactly I’m not sure. It’s all set in one city and has no big battles so it’s hardly my usual epic fantasy, but urban fantasy means something completely different. I’m calling it a fantasy action/conspiracy thriller until my publisher tells me I’m talking rubbish and changes it…

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Up till now, I’d been careful not to get too distracted by thinking this… the characters are who they are in my head so putting an actor’s face on them doesn’t help much. HOWEVER… ;0)

Tom Hardy would be a great leading man as Narin, his skills were wasted as Bane if you ask me and ignored the humanity he can bring. Alexander Skarsgard would have no problems playing his superior, the cold Lawbringer Rhe, while Naomie Harris would be near-perfect for the noblewoman Narin’s fallen in love with, Lady Kine.

As for the rest, I don’t know any actress who’d be right for Kesh but no doubt any film would require her to become a skinny model-type anyway so… Rutger Hauer would lap up the role of Enchei, Narin’s dangerous old friend (but may be five or ten years too old, in which case the kid in me would want Christopher Lambert to deputise) while Gerard Butler (along with having a likely starring role in any Twilight Reign movies) would play the turncoat Irato nicely. For the bad guys, Anthony Hopkins could do Father Jehq in his sleep and either Milla Jovovich or Rhona Mitra would, I’m sure, make Synter her own.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

An inexperienced lawman stumbles over a plot to steal the minds of thousands and send the Empire of a Hundred Houses into chaos.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It will be published by Gollancz next year

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

About 12 months, excluding the time it took to write the proposal at the start (and have that torn to shreds a couple of times by my agent until I’d done it right). Most of my work is done during the first draft though, that’s by far the bulk of the time required.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

That’s a tricky one. I’m not claiming this is a ground-breaking novel at all, but I’ve come across very few fantasies it resembles – maybe because for the last ten years I’ve been writing big epic fantasies instead. Having read Mark Newton’s Night of Villjamur there’s a similarity there, set around one city, a murderous plot that has wider ramifications. Ostensibly Lies of Locke Lamora too if you want to work off that basis, but it’s a very different book.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Heh, does struggling to sell an epic fantasy ten years ago count? Assassins with amnesia are a common enough trope, so I had in my head a thought that I wanted to play with that a bit – not making it the focus or obsession of the story while also precluding the chance that his memory ever comes conveniently back – but mostly I was just looking to do a simpler tale to the one I’d just finished.

The Stormcaller was the start of a million + words over five novels and one collection of short stories, and if I’m honest I might admit readers REALLY need to pay attention and remember stuff to get the best out of it. So I just wanted to go in a different direction and try something else, go simpler on the plot and reduce the amount of magic on show, and play a bit with the cold war spy/conspiracy books the house was full of when I was growing up.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

I think it’s a pretty fast read for a good-sized book – 165k words – a handful of characters, one city and spanning just a couple of days. And (while it might be a bit of a risk in the current climate of anti-hero love) a main character who’s not an arsehole to everyone he meets – he may be in a tricky situation but he mostly wants to do what’s right. We also have fox-demons, assassins, warrior-mages, other sorts of demons, a couple of gods… hell, there’s even some romance in there! What more could you ask for?

And as they way this goes is to tag other writers to continue the thread in a week’s time or have some terrible and entirely imaginary calamity fall upon them, I hereby summon the elder gods of authordomship named Joel Shepherd, Mark Newton, Juliet McKenna and Adrian Tchaikovsky to continue this unholy work.

Joel Shepherd can be found here – and I’ve failed to read beyond the first of his books for reasons that bear no relation to the quality. Sasha was excellent and a good example that men can write interesting female heroes that aren’t just Conan with tits.

Mark Charan Newton is author of the Legends of the Red Sun series, of which I’ve also read only the first but still greatly enjoyed it. Are you see the theme of lack of time/slow reading speed yet? There are so many good books out there, many by authors I know, that I feel crap about not pursuing so many series, but from a professional POV want to at least be aware of what they’re doing. Fortunately, Mark’s building a nice reputation without me!

Juliet McKenna – a lovely lady and just as harmless and sweet as she first appears. Honestly, not dangerous at all, no fearsome skills at brutality anywhere in sight… She also writes good books however, and having met her at the last Eastercon I’ve got around to reading Thief’s Gamble fairly recently. Only the first book thus far of course, yes because I’m useless. However, as well as being a good book it’s notable for the approach I think, showing modern, unfussy dialogue etc many years before it was suddenly ‘discovered’ by a new crop of writers!

And finally, Adrian Tchaikovsky is notable for many reasons, not just because he reminds me of an oversized and folically-blessed David Devereux. One of them is the fact that he cunning evaded my first-book efforts by suggesting a reading swap – he’d brave the first novel that was Stormcaller and I’d read his second, Dragonfly Falling. Now Empire of Black and Gold, his first, was good but had some flaws in the way of first novels. Book 2 however, was a major step up and gives a better sense of the excellent series that is Shadows of the Apt. I’ve read six in that series now, somewhat aided by the fact my wife’s also hooked on them and buys them so I don’t have to!

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