Moon’s Artifice – advance copy give-away!

Ok then, Give-away time! Miles ahead of publication too, since the book's out the 21st November in the UK, but I have a spare proof to hand so what the hell, right?
Just tell me why you deserve a proof of Moon's Artifice and it could be yours! Best answer wins & there's no right answer, only wrong ones. Probably very wrong ones… I'll choose a winner over the w/e and DM or whatever for an address.
Sorry though, I think it'll have to be UK only, given postage costs these days!

The God Tattoo: Untold Tales of the Twilight Reign – out today!

This post has been a little while in coming. Truth be told I hadn’t much expected it to ever happen – after all, ask anyone and they’ll tell you short story collections don’t sell in the UK. And yet here I am, with another lovely Larry Rostant cover to admire and my name on another book. Now they’re all special – you publish a book that isn’t special to you and it either will be your last or should be. Even for a professional author, each one remains a constant for a period of your life and should trigger an emotion as strong as the smell of freshly cut grass. Where you wrote the book, who you lived with or drank with – they’re all bound up with each one but God Tattoo encompassed most of my adult life as it turned out.

I can remember writing Beast in Velvet and Afraid of the Dark in my student house, Dark of the Moor after work in the shabby (former) offices of A M Heath with that funny smell halfway up the stairs, Shadows in the Library in the little house we rented when we moved to Oxford. Memories for each – almost a different author for some given the intervening years. But they were all for my own entertainment – side-tales to the Twilight Reign mostly written off the back of my discovery of writers like M R James and Lovecraft. Older versions were released on the net and a couple of people even read them; Beast got me my first print publication (despite being a second draft which the editor cut the very last line of) and I still have the never-paid in cheque of $10 as a reminder.

As a collection however, while they belonged together I never really believe they’d appear as a grown-up book. And yet here they are at long last I’m delighted to say – some isolated little tales, others that hinted at the wider conflict and ended up charting the course of the novels themselves. Among there are my own small takes on a serial killer tale, a locked room mystery, several ghost stories, a damsel in distress and Lovecraft’s accounts of horror. But they’re all part of the Twilight Reign world. If you remember the nameless captain from the Di Senego club in Narkang, he appeared there because two of these tales and I didn’t want the Twilight Reign to happen without him. That’s the thing with stories, your emotions get tangled up in them, but I’d not have it any other way.

So here you go, my little stories, all grown up. I hope you enjoy them.

God Tattoo giveaway

Copies of the God Tattoo are on their way to me I'm told, so how's about a couple of them up for grabs? One simple question, best answer/s wins. As usual, points are awarded as much for absurdity, childishness, tangential ramblings and anything else that amuses me at the time…. Answers here, on Facebook, via email, DM, any way you like so long as I read it! But of course, if you post it by hand the dog will probably eat!

So – how does Daken acquire his God Tattoo?

One small NB, it's not on sale in the US until later in the year so I'm afraid this doesn't include you guys. you US-ites will have to have your own comp closer to the time!

Terry Pratchett – what is he good for?

Quite a lot actually!

Another little guest post for your amusement/derision/informed comments… Having been asked to do a paragraph about Pratchett to add to an article, I clearly couldn't keep to such modest constraints and got a blog post all to myself instead!

Gods – what are they good for?

No, I've not started a fantasy-themed Frankie Goes to Hollywood cover band – my god, the horror – but I have committed guest bloggery over at Dribble of Ink. Feel free to go over there and tell me I'm talking complete rubbish!

Interview with me!

All about me, which is just how I like it – brought to you by the lovely people at Civilian Reader

For a little while…

Originally posted by at For a little while…

…this ad was up on the Directgov Universal Jobmatch page:

Secret Intelligence Service – Target Elimination Specialist

Job summary

Posting Date: 22/11/2012
Company: Secret Intelligence Service
Location: UK-London-London
Industries: Security and surveillance
Job type: Full time
Years of experience: 5+ years
Career level: Experienced (Non-Manager)
Education Level: Under graduate degree
Salary: £50,000.00 – £60,000.00 per year
Performance bonuses on completion of missions
Hours of Work: Flexitime; Overtime; Shift work
Job reference code: 007
Contact information:

Job description

From time to time the UK government has a need to remove people whose continued existence poses a risk to the effective conduct of public order. So we require particularly skilled professionals who are prepared to work on a non-attributable basis to deal with these problems.

The role will involve international travel to a number of countries where individuals need to be removed.

The ideal candidate will need to have no particular distinguishing features so as to blend in and be able to take on new identities as required. They will need to be resourceful in finding ways to accomplish their missions and, in some cases, to leave foreign countries by non-conventional means. The role would suit candidates with prior military experience, particularly in the use of sniper rifles.

The job holder will receive all necessary equipment, including passports, special watches, jet packs, mini-submarines and a Walther PPK.

This role is particularly appropriate for those who like their martinis shaken and not stirred.

To apply for this role, please express your interest somewhere in the vicinity of the large and rather fake-looking rock in Regent's Park.

Sadly, it's no longer there. I guess some people have no sense of humour. ^_^


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!