The first exciting news of 2024 is Amazon Kindle have The Cleaving ebook on offer from 15th – 21st January. Check your local price.
This Arthurian retelling follows the tangled stories of four women: Nimue, Ygraine, Morgana, and Guinevere. These women fight to control their own destinies amid the wars and rivalries that will determine the destiny of Britain. The legendary epics of King Arthur and Camelot don’t tell the whole story. The chroniclers say Arthur’s mother Ygraine married the man that killed her husband. They say that Arthur’s half-sister Morgana turned to dark magic to defy him and Merlin. They say that the enchantress Nimue challenged Merlin and used her magic to outwit him. And that Arthur’s marriage to Guinevere ended in adultery, rebellion and bloodshed. Why did these women chose such dangerous paths?
As warfare and rivalries constantly challenge the king, Arthur and Merlin believe these women are destined to serve Camelot by doing as they are told. But men forget that women talk. Ygraine, Nimue, Morgana and Guinevere become friends and allies as decisions that shape their lives are taken out of their hands. This is their untold story. Now these women have a voice.
In local news, this household and assorted guests had a very enjoyable festive break. Now we’re adjusting to life since my husband retired on 31st December. So far, this January has seen a major and long-overdue sorting out of cupboards, drawers and wardrobes which has proved remarkably stress-free and very constructive, so that’s a big tick in the plus column, and a good few other things have been ticked off the Domestic To Do List as well. When the weather improves, we intend to make good use of his free time to travel around the country and to catch up with visiting friends we haven’t seen nearly enough of over this past couple of years.
In between sessions of shared household chores, I’ve been reading random books on folklore and a few other things. That’s prompted mulling over ideas for the next Green Man book in a relaxed, unfocused fashion as I sort and tidy. I now have several pages of notes outlining what promises to be an exciting story to write and to read later in the year.
Other projects on the Work To Do List include the Ampyrium shared-world project I’m part of alongside other ZNB authors, and the collection of my short stories to be published by NewCon Press in their Polestars series. There’s another potentially very interesting possibility under discussion – more to come on that in due course, hopefully. Then there’s Eastercon, WorldCon in Glasgow, and Fantasycon to come. I will also be continuing my work on the Society of Authors’ Management Committee, in the interests of all writers.
So we’re set fair for 2024. We are also keeping a weather eye on those folk beset by the many storms, real and metaphorical, that are swirling around so many people these days, and helping out where we can.
This month’s a busy one. On 15th October, I’ll be running an online writers’ workshop for the British Fantasy Society, looking at revising your own work. I’ll share examples of ‘before’ and ‘after’ drafts of a piece I wrote some years ago, and discuss the changes I made and why, to highlight the underlying principles of being your own editor. Full details here on the BFS website.
As I imagine you already know, The Green Man’s Quarry will be published on 21st October. You can pre-order paper editions from the Wizard’s Tower Press bookstore (UK only) which includes the ebook free.
You can pre-order ebook editions from your local Amazon, Barnes & Noble Nook in the US and Kobo. Paperback and hardback editions can also now be pre-ordered through Amazon and in the US from Barnes & Noble. Bookshops, chain and independent, should be able to order through their usual wholesalers.
We will be launching the book on the Friday evening before Bristolcon, 20th October, at the Hilton Doubletree hotel, Bristol. By the way, Wizard’s Tower Press are starting their own newsletter as social media fractures. You can sign up here for all their updates.
The first enthusiastic reviews are appearing on Goodreads – spoiler-free, which I very much appreciate.
Alas, I cannot stay to take part in Bristolcon on the Saturday. The diary gremlins have got me good and proper this year. I’ll be travelling to Sheffield to join dear friends as they celebrate a notable anniversary with family and friends, theirs and mine.
Looking further forward, I’ve selected the short stories for my Polestars collection, coming from NewCon Press. Choosing those and writing a short note for each one has been fascinating. More news on that in due course on the NewCon Press website.
Readers may recall the anthology Fight Like a Girl, from Kristell Ink. I’m delighted to say a second volume is on its way. Following extremely helpful feedback from the editors, I’ve revised my story and I am very pleased with it.
I’m currently working on my story for Ampyrium, the shared world project for the American small press ZNB, now that this year’s Kickstarter has funded. The open call for submissions for their other two 2024 anthologies, ‘Familiars’ and ‘Last-ditch’ has started and will run until December 31st. Remember, ZNB are committed to giving debut writers opportunities.
Looking back, long-standing pals may recall the days when I wrote a review column for Albedo One, Ireland’s foremost SFFH magazine, founded in 1993. As with so many genre publications, this has been a labour of love, and as happens for many reasons, the project has reached the end of this particular journey. Issue 50 is the final, valedictory, fiction edition, and that’s an honourable number for such a conclusion. My story is called ‘The End of the Road’, and you can buy the magazine through Amazon here.
Social media update: I’m using Twitter-as-was less and less as it becomes more and more pointless, and I look forward to the day when I can bin it, frankly. You can find me on Facebook at facebook.com/jemck, on Bluesky @julietemckenna.bsky.social, and on Mastodon @JulietEMcKenna@wandering.shop.
The Green Man’s Quarry will be published by Wizard’s Tower Press on 21st October 2023, following our launch on Friday evening 20th October at Bristolcon. Artwork once more by the supremely talented Ben Baldwin.
So what’s this story about? Here’s the cover copy…
“The Green Man sends Daniel Mackmain to stop threats from folklore making trouble in the everyday world. Now a naiad and dryad want him to deal with the big cat they’ve seen prowling in their woods. Reports like this turn up in the tabloid press from time to time, though no one has ever caught such a cat, or even found evidence of a large carnivore’s kills.
Can Dan discover the truth behind this modern myth before social media turns his hunt into an internet sensation? He knows that not all animals are what they seem. A huge cat which can appear and disappear without a trace must be more than meets the eye. Dan knows one thing for certain. He’s on the trail of a killer.’
Pre-orders are open. Here are the links so for. For more buy links as soon as they become available, check the Wizard’s Tower Press website.
Feel free to spread the word!
Cover art – Ben Baldwin
I’ll be heading off to Fantasycon in Birmingham (UK) shortly. If you’re there, feel free to say hello, even if we haven’t met before. I’ll have some copies of of the Green Man books so far with me. If you want to buy one or more of those, ping me on social media or catch me after a panel. I also have some sets of the Lescari and Hadrumal trilogies to give away to interested readers.
My programme is as follows:
Saturday 9.30 am – readings. I’ll have the title and draft cover for the next Green Man book to share, along with a short reading just to give those who can make it a taste… Plus a short reading from The Cleaving to give a flavour of the different approach I’m taking with this Arthurian retelling.
Saturday 11.30 am – Fantasy in Contemporary Times. This promises to be an excellent discussion.
Signing – straight after this panel, I’ll be heading for the Angry Robot table in the Dealers Room. They’ll have copies of The Cleaving for sale, and I’m happy to sign other books as well.
Saturday 2pm – The Muse. We’ll be exploring ways to sustain your creativity as a writer through a writing career.
It’s pretty much my ideal convention schedule. A chance to share new work, a couple of really interesting panels, and a good few programme items where I’ll be in the audience. Plus plenty of time for chatting about all and sundry to established pals and newly made friends.
For those who might be curious, this is what I’ll be doing over the Easter weekend, as well as seeing established pals, making new friends and a whole lot more interesting things besides.
If you’re at the convention, feel free to say hello, and I’m always happy to sign books and chat – as long as I’m not actually on my way to a panel.
Hey, you! Pay me!
Balmoral – Fri 12:00–13:00
Even the most experienced authors sometimes find invoices unpaid. Our panel talks about the art of valuing your work, and getting what you deserve – and some of the barriers to that.
With Wendy Bradley, Mike Brooks, John Jarrold
Readings: Adult Orientated and the Fantastical
Balmoral – Fri 19:30–20:30
With F. D. Lee, Sandra Bond and Wole Talabi
I’ll be reading from The Cleaving, and remember, Books on the Hill in the Dealers’ Room will have advance copies.
GoH Interview: I have the pleasure and privilege of talking to Kari Sperring about her work and her involvement with fandom, and doubtless other things as well.
Queens – Sat 12:00–13:00
Thirty-four years, and an interim survey
Sandringham – Sun 13:30–14:30
In 1989, Paul Kincaid surveyed working UK-based science fiction and fantasy writers, and wrote up the results for Mexicon. In 2009, Niall Harrison repeated the questionnaire, and wrote up the results for the BSFA, considering the changes in the SF field during those twenty years. We’re not quite due another iteration, but this panel will ask some current writers to answer some of the questions.
With Niall Harrison, Stew Hotston, Anne Charnock, Neil Williamson, Nina Allan
Queens – Sun 15:00–16:00
As a canon written by many authors down the ages, Arthuriana is uniquely flexible in letting you choose which version canon you want, and how you want to adapt it.
With Russell A Smith, Gillian Polack, Kari Sperring, James Bennett
This time next week, The Cleaving will be published. The Angry Robot team are doing splendid work spreading the word – Caroline and Amy are absolute stars.
Over at Lithub, Natalie Zutter includes The Cleaving in her recommendations for some spring reading, alongside books from Peter S Beagle, Emily Tesh, Fonda Lee, Vivian Shaw, Andrea Stewart, TJ Klune, and Catherynne M Valente.
“Juliet E. McKenna retells the familiar Arthuriana epic through the eyes of enchantress Nimue, who possesses the same magic as Merlin but has more scruples than he does about interfering in mortal lives. So while Merlin helps Uther Pendragon trick the lady Ygraine into conceiving Arthur, Nimue is by Ygraine’s side, disguised as her handmaiden.
While the saga’s familiar male characters—Merlin, Uther, Arthur, Lancelot, Mordred—make their big moves through the rhythms of war, The Cleaving focuses on the women’s work and equally vital intrigues back at court. When Arthur’s half-sister Morgana and future wife Guinevere are brought into the mix, Nimue’s interactions with each provide additional context as to why both women make such dangerous choices that will eventually spell the fall of Camelot.”
I’ve mentioned the various interesting and enjoyable podcast chats I’ve had recently, and you can now listen to a couple of those conversations at the following places.
And here’s where you can find me in person over the next little while.
In a couple of weeks, 7th – 10th April, I’ll be at Conversation, the 2023 Eastercon in Birmingham. I’ll have the tremendous pleasure of interviewing Guest of Honour, Kari Sperring, as well as discussing assorted aspects of the craft and business of writing fantasy and science fiction with interesting people. I will also be reading from my new novel, The Cleaving, and discussing Arthuriana in its various forms.
The Cleaving is officially published on 11th April 2023, but Books on the Hill should have advance copies at Eastercon. If you want to buy sets of the paperbacks of either The Chronicles of the Lescari Revolution, or The Hadrumal Crisis trilogies, for the at-convention price of £5, email me – email@example.com . Then I’ll know how many books to stick in the boot of the car, and you can pay me at the Convention.
If you’re not at Eastercon, but you’re within striking distance of London, I’ll be at the Super Relaxed Fantasy Club on 11th April, celebrating the official publication day of The Cleaving, along with Anna Smith Spark, and Michael R Miller. This monthly event takes place as The Star of Kings pub near Kings Cross and I recommend you check it out regularly. We’ll give short readings from our upcoming books, and talk about writing, reading and well, whatever else comes up in conversation with everyone there. It’ll be a really fun evening.
In May, I’ll be at the Milford SF Writers Retreat in Trigonos, North Wales. As long as everything’s still going to plan, I’ll be polishing up this year’s Green Man book before sending the draft over to Editor Toby. No spoilers, but I am really pleased with how this one’s coming together…
Looking forward to 2nd – 4th June, I’ll be in Edinburgh for Cymera, Scotland’s festival of science-fiction, fantasy and horror writing, as a guest speaker. This will be my first time at this particular event, and everyone I know who’s been before has enthusiastically recommended it. It will also be great to visit Scotland again. We’ll take the opportunity to have a holiday there as well.
So I’ll be getting out and about. That’s not possible for everyone of course, and the SF&F genre is very fortunate in the range and variety of online events and podcasts that fans and creators now support. I’ve recorded a good few interviews and chats lately that will be coming your way over the next few months. I’ll post links when I have them.
Meantime, you can check out this year’s panels at TBRCon – there’s loads of good stuff. Scroll down and you’ll find me and others discussing ‘Slice of Life Fantasy’.
More recently, I joined children’s writer Abie Longstaff, poet Katrina Naomi, and crime writer Sam Blake in her everyday persona of Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, to discuss making a living as a writer, as part of the Society of Authors’ ‘At Home’ programme of events. You can catch up with the video here. Again, there are a whole of of other videos available, and you don’t have to be a member of the Society to access any of this invaluable advice. (You might like to think about joining the Society, do take a look at what membership offers.)
It’s all go at the moment, and in the best way. This coming Saturday 18th February, I’ll be taking part in the British Fantasy Society’s online February event. I’ll be on a panel at 1.45pm GMT discussing Hard vs Soft Magic Systems, with LR Lam and Steve McHugh.
Before that, at 1.30 I’m on the Author Readings schedule when I’ll be reading from The Cleaving for the very first time anywhere.
There’s a whole roster of great writers reading through the day, plus another panel on approaches to world-building, and an interview with Adrian Tchaikovsky, who is always worth listening to. You can find out full details and more besides on the BFS News page – click here.
On 14th March, I’m on a panel for the Society of Authors At Home event, discussing making a living from writing with children’s author Abie Longstaff and poet Katrina Naomi, chaired by Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin (also known as the crime writer Sam Blake). This will be a reprise of our very successful event at last year’s London Book Fair where we lay out the realities of the book business and suggest ways to maximise your earning opportunities. Full details here – and like all online SoA events (apart from the AGM) this will be open to members and non-members alike.
I’m also having a lot of fun recording some interviews this week, with the Fantasy Fellowship for their YouTube channel, and for the Read Write podcast. I’ll post links when those are available for you to enjoy.
And there’s more to come!
On Tuesday 24th January – 7 pm GMT/2 pm EST. I’ll be part of TBRCon’s ‘Slice-of-Life Fantasy’ panel alongside Tom Bookbeard (moderator), Travis Baldree, Rebecca Ross, Stephanie Burgis, Travis M. Riddle and Quenby Olson. This will be a live panel, lasting no more than 90 minutes, streaming on the FanFiAddict YouTube channel.
#TBRCon2023 takes place January 22-29, 2023, and is an all-virtual SF/F/H convention with 30 author panels, 25 author readings/Q&As, 3 live podcast episodes and 3 live D&D sessions. It will be absolutely FREE to watch live or catching up later. Check your social media for the hashtag and marvel at the full programme.
On Tuesday 14th March – 10 am GMT. I’ll be online again, taking part in the Society of Authors At Home panel discussing ‘Making a living from writing’, alongside Katrina Naomi, Abie Longstaff and Sam Blake.
As far as other travels and events are concerned, I plan on being at Eastercon and Fantasycon, and I’ll doubtless be heading elsewhere as well. If our paths cross, feel free to say hello.
Next week’s event at Portishead Library, Monday 17th October, has been cancelled, with apologies for any inconvenience. Well, these things happen, especially when funds are squeezed and folk are concerned about health risks. You can still find out about my JM Alvey dyslexia-friendly quick read here and at the Books on the Hill website.
In more cheerful news, it’s Octocon this coming weekend, and I’ll be on the online panel discussing ‘Peace and Ways to Find It’ on Sunday, 16 October 2022 at 11:30 am. Do check out the full hybrid programme.
And don’t forget you can see me and Cheryl Morgan talking about The Green Man’s Gift, courtesy of ‘Octocon Presents’ – click here.
On the 29th October I’ll be at Bristolcon – full details here. The programme is currently being finalised, and will include some streamed elements for fans who can’t be there in person.
So that’s the news for now.