There’s been a flurry of SF&F authors having a look in the back cupboards of their hard drives this week, to see what stories they could make available for free. We know a lot of readers have time on their hands just at the moment, but we are also well aware that they may be finding themselves uncertain as to prospects for their bank balance and bills for the next however-long.
With the always invaluable assistance of Cheryl at Wizard’s Tower Press, and artist Ben Baldwin, I’m offering up The Wizard’s Coming, a short story that stands alone, and as such, should give a good introduction to my style and my approach to epic fantasy. In the overall chronology of my successive epic fantasy series, it sits between The Lescari Revolution trilogy and The Hadrumal Crisis trilogy, so there’s added interest if you’ve read those books.
time to share some news about a writing project I started around five
years ago, to broaden the scope of my writing in these challenging
times for authors. As a lifelong crime fiction fan and an erstwhile
classicist, I reckoned historical mysteries set in Ancient Greece
between the Persian and Peloponnesian wars, had potential. There are
plenty of good books set in Rome after all, so how about a change of
started my research, and thirty years after my undergraduate days, it
was fascinating to see where thinking had changed, and what
discoveries had been made. I plotted out a story, wrote a draft,
sought no-holds-barred feedback from selected academic friends, and
revised that draft. Then I started sending the project out on
submission, working my way through a list of selected literary
year of so later, I found an agent as keen on the project as I was.
With the benefit of his fresh viewpoint, I reworked some aspects of
the book, and he started pitching it to publishers. Six months later,
we had a two book deal, with a view to launching an ongoing series.
The plan was I’d write these books alongside my SF & fantasy,
using the pseudonym J M Alvey to keep these books separate from my
have not gone to plan. Not for any reason to do with my writing.
Circumstances arise in publishing that authors can do nothing about,
despite the seriously adverse impact on their careers. There’s no
point in me going into the details. That would be unprofessional as
well as unproductive.
I would simply like readers who might be interested to know these books are there to be enjoyed. Advance readers and reviewers have certainly taken to Philocles, a writer for hire in 5th century Athens who dreams of making his name writing comic plays for the great festivals. Check out the quotes on Amazon.
In Shadows of Athens, Philocles discovers a murdered man outside his front door, a few days before his new play is to be performed in the Dionysia drama competition. Is it just a robbery gone wrong? If so, why didn’t the thieves take the dead man’s valuables? Philocles wants answers, even though he has no idea where his investigations will lead. But who else is going to see justice done? Ancient Athens is a city with no police force, still less any detectives.
In Scorpions in Corinth, Philocles and his actors have travelled to the Isthmus, gateway to the Peloponnese. They are relying on a local fixer to help them stage a play there, to promote ties between the two cities. But Eumelos is killed soon after the Athenians arrive, and it’s clear that someone is out to wreck their performance. Philocles must find out who, but how? He knows his way around Athens but making enquiries in Corinth is a very different story.
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I’m just back from a week away, and I’m currently dealing with the post-holiday admin pile up. While I do that, here’s what I’ll be doing in Dublin and when. It’s going to be a lot of fun!
Aug 2019, Thursday 15:00 – 15:50, Liffey Hall-2 (CCD)
you fancy a trip to a fantasy realm? Want to avoid stumbling into
Moria or falling off the edge of the Discworld? Our panel of authors
are here to help you by roleplaying as one of their characters and
trying to persuade you to travel to their fantasy worlds.
Aug 2019, Friday 13:00 – 13:50, Wicklow Hall-1 (CCD)
in 2013, Gollancz’s Twitter account made the claim that: ‘Epic
Fantasy is, by and large, crushingly conservative in its delivery,
its politics and its morality’. The question sparked a discussion
that is still relevant and ongoing. Is epic fantasy politically
conservative and, if so, what does this tell us about the genre?
lack of technological progress in fantasy
Aug 2019, Sunday 11:00 – 11:50, ECOCEM Room (CCD)
the cotton gin to the printing press, technology doesn’t seem to
advance in many fantasy worlds – despite hundreds of years of
history in which an industrial revolution could happen. Why doesn’t
it? Does magic replace the need for technology? What about the growth
of magic-powered technology within a fantasy world? What does it take
to get a little scientific progress?
islands: exploring Irish and British fandom
Aug 2019, Monday 11:00 – 11:50, Liffey Room-1 (CCD)
decades fans from Britain and Ireland have participated in and even
run each other’s cons. Has this created a shared British and Irish
con culture, or does each country have its unique traditions? And
have modern social media and travel options diminished or enhanced
our close ties?
Since we know how many eager readers are looking forward to this book, we thought, let’s celebrate Midsummer’s Day by sharing Ben Baldwin’s fabulous artwork, and letting you know a little bit about this new story.
When you do a good job for someone, there’s a strong chance they’ll offer you more work or recommend you elsewhere. So Daniel Mackmain isn’t particularly surprised when his boss’s architect brother asks for his help on a historic house renovation in the Cotswolds.
Except Dan’s a dryad’s son, and he soon realises there’s a whole lot more going on. Ancient malice is stirring and it has made an alliance in the modern world. The Green Man expects Dan to put an end to this threat. Seeing the danger, Dan’s forced to agree.The problem is he’s alone in a place he doesn’t know, a hundred miles or more away from any allies of his own.
A modern fantasy rooted in the ancient myths and folklore of the British Isles.
We’re in the final stages of production, and as soon as we have a firm date for publication, we’ll share that too!
I’m very pleased to say that I will have a story in this anthology coming soon from Newcon Press. This is going to be a particularly interesting collection of original stories blended with reprints from classic writers whose names you may or may not recognise. We’re all exploring the dark corners and shadows of life in London from the Victorian era onward. In my case, I’m looking at the harsh lives of peripatetic governesses, and an unexpected opportunity for one unjustly dismissed young woman.
My story also proves the old maxim that no writing is ever wasted. I wrote it for a different project entirely which never came together, alas, quite a few years ago now. Editor Ian Whates remembered seeing it back then, and he realised how well it would suit this particular collection. I’m delighted to see it in print in such fine company.
The full table of contents –
Introduction by Ian Whates
Hunger – Bryony Pearce
A Street – Arthur Morrison
A Maze for the Minotaur – Reggie Oliver
The Phantom Model (A Wapping Romance) – Hume Nisbet
The Ghost of Cock Lane – Rose Biggin
The Hand That Rocks The Cradle – Juliet E. McKenna
Watercress Girl – Henry Mayhew
Queen Rat – David Rix
Christopherson – George Gissing
From The Casebook of Master Wiggins, Esq. – Paul di Filippo
A brief post to share a few things. Firstly, I will be a guest of the Super Relaxed Fantasy Club on Tuesday 14th May, alongside Jen Williams and Stewart Hotson. We’ll be meeting upstairs at The Star of Kings (just north of King’s Cross) from 7pm. The event promises ‘a reading, some Q&A, a chat, a lemonade’, and the evening is open to all.
In writing news, The Green Man’s Foe is well on its way to a final text, with thanks to Editor Toby. The cover art is really coming together, thanks to Artist Ben. As soon as we have a definite publication date, and information on how to pre-order from Wizard’s Tower Press , I’ll post all the details.
Meantime, I’ll be posting weekly snippets as part of the Book Quote Wednesday hashtag #bookqw on Twitter and Facebook. It’s a fun bit of promo run by Mindy Klasky and taken up by an eclectic range of authors – if you do Twitter and/or Facebook. Obviously not everyone does, so I’ll cross-post here.
This week’s word is ‘friend’, so here’s a taste, just to whet your appetite…
‘Daniel, good to see you.’
‘Ben.’ I offered him my hand and we shook, by way of a greeting somewhere between friends and business acquaintances. ‘What brings you here?’
Benjamin Beauchene – pronounced ‘Beechen’ – is an architect who lives in London, even if Blithehurst Manor is his ancestral family home, and he has shares in the trust that now preserves the property for future generations. Not that the dryads were convinced that the humans who couldn’t see them could be trusted to look after their domain.
‘I’m looking for a favour,’ he said with a frank grin. ‘Shall we head up to the restaurant for a coffee?’ He gestured towards the repurposed stable buildings that stood at the top of the shallow slope by the main road.
I checked my watch. It wasn’t even nine in the morning. I wondered what this favour might be, to get him here so early.
In other news, we can now share the cover art for the anthology Alternate Peace, and Justin Adams of Varia Studios is the artist. This is coming soon from ZNB, and my story’s set in 1939, twenty-five years after a very different outcome to a tragedy in Sarajevo…