Wordland 3 Out Now(0)
The free, on-line magazine is now live at http://wordland3.weebly.com/
“Stories and poetry from those who have looked up and seen dark and fearful wonders beyond cloud, sun, moon and stars…”
The Condemned by Simon Bestwick(0)
Gray Friar Press is proud to announce the sixth entry in its Gray Matter novella range. But unlike many imprints, we’re not just offering a single novella. We’re offering SIX novellas – in one book!
THE CONDEMNED is Simon Bestwick’s second GFP collection, following the magnificent PICTURES OF THE DARK a few years ago. We’re really excited about this new book and are offering it in both flat-signed, limited (100 copies) hardcover and trade paperback editions. Here are the contents:
The hardcover comes with a previously unpublished bonus short story (“Made of Clay”) and retails at £18.99 / $36 / 22 Euros + P&P.
The paperback retails at £8.99 / $16 / 11 Euros + P&P. All editions will be ready to ship by early June and can be pre-ordered HERE
Obverse Books Acquires License to Sexton Blake(0)
Obverse Books is delighted to announce the acquisition from IPC Media of the license to the famous Baker Street detective, Sexton Blake.
Blake initially appeared in several of the Penny Dreadful style British comics and magazines of the latter 19th and early 20th centuries. Lauded by literary figures as diverse as Dorothy L Sayers and Michael Moorcock, Blake’s adventures represent the longest running fictional series in the English language, and appeared in print, in comic format, on radio, television and cinema between 1893 and 1978.
Obverse Books intend to resurrect the famous Sexton Blake Library, commencing with a new novella by best-selling genre author George Mann entitled ‘Sexton Blake and the Vengeful Dead’, combined in one hardback and electronic volume with a reprint of a rare, classic Blake story from the inter-war years.
“The acquisition of the Sexton Blake license is an important building block in the growth of our catalogue,” said Obverse CEO, Stuart Douglas. “The re-launched Sexton Blake Library will build upon our existing mystery and crime releases, while at the same time fulfilling a long-standing personal ambition to bring the longest-running detective series in literary history back to life.”
Talking about his own novel, George Mann added: “I’ve been an avid devotee of Sexton Blake for many years, and it’s such an honour to be writing the first instalment of the newly resurrected Sexton Blake Library. Expect thrills, spills, action and adventure as a Golden Age Blake is buried alive, takes on a mysterious cult and faces off against a returning villain from the original saga.”
Angry Robot Signs Chuck Wendig in Two Book Deal(0)
The first acquisition, Bloody Brides, is a sequel to Wendig’s 2013 title – the first Mookie Pearl book - The Blue Blazes, and will be published in early 2015. The as-yet unnamed second title will follow later in the year.
The deal for worldwide English rights was negotiated by Angry Robot Senior Editor Lee Harris and Stacia Decker of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.
Chuck said “PLEASE CALL THE POLICE THEY WON’T LET ME LEAVE THEY JUST KEEP MAKING ME WRITE THESE BOOKS AND I HAVEN’T SEEN THE LIGHT OF DAY IN TWO YEARS — oh! I’m sorry, what I mean to say is, Angry Robot is full of awesome people bringing awesome books into the world and I’m happy that they’re continuing to afford me the opportunity to reduce the overall quality of their stable of authors. I am, as always, excited to continue my relationship with these charming robot curators of genre fiction.”
Lee said “We are always delighted to read a new Chuck Wendig book, and doubly-delighted when we get to publish them. This makes six books for Chuck with Angry Robot, and long make it continue!”
Chuck has written too much. He should probably stop. Give him a wide berth, as he might be drunk and untrustworthy. He currently lives in the wilds of Pennsyltucky with wife, dog, and newborn progeny. You can find him at his website, terribleminds, where he is busy dispensing dubious writing advice and unstable publishing wisdom. Previous books with Angry Robots: the Miriam Black novels Blackbirds, Mockingbird, and 2014’s The Cormorant and the first Mookie Pearl title, The Blue Blazes.
FUTURA Event Competition(0)
FUTURA is an exciting new science-fiction event which takes places on Saturday 15th June in Wolverhampton. Hosted at the fabulous Light House, the day will feature a range of panels, readings and kafeeklatsches, plus your chance to win awesome prizes in our raffle and our science-fiction quiz! Futura runs from 11am till late, with the bar open until 1am – plenty of time to enjoy the drinks, food and real ale on offer! Not only that, but the even features a stellar line-up of authors and publishers, including Guests of Honour KEN MACLEOD, IAN R MACLEOD and ADAM ROBERTS.
We’re pleased to have two tickets to this fantastic event, worth £50, to give away to one lucky winner! We’re just looking for an answer to the following…
Guest of Honour Adam Roberts has been nominated for the Arthur C Clarke award three times. For your chance to win, simply name any one of the titles that have received a nomination.
Email your answer to us at competitions@
Studio Ghibli 25th Anniversary Celebration(0)
In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the release of Studio Ghibli’s acclaimed masterpieces GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES and MY NEIGHBOUR TOTORO, STUDIOCANAL are delighted to announce a nationwide theatrical release with a chance to experience a recreation of the original Japanese double-bill feature that first launched these anime classics. An arresting combination from Studio Ghibli’s founding fathers: Hayao Miyazaki’s MY NEIGHBOUR TOTORO, a lyrical fantasy about benevolent forest spirits and Isao Takahata’s GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES, the heartbreaking tale of two children’s struggle to survive their firebombed city in World War 2, were launched together in 1988, showcasing the breadth of the anime powerhouse’s range of vision. Seemingly almost polar opposites in subject matter, Miyazaki’s gentle fable and Takahata’s grittier wartime adaptation both perfectly encapsulate the studio’s signature motif: its evocation of the wonder and innocence of childhood with their leading young protagonists, and showcase perfectly its defining style impressionistic imagery.
GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES
Set in Japan during World War II, GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES focuses on Seita and his little sister Setsuko. After their mother I skilled in an air raid, and with their father serving in the navy, they are forced to fight for survival in the devastated Japanese countryside. Food and shelter are scarce, and even their own relatives are too concerned with their own survival. All they have is each other and their belief that life must carry on. Takahata and his team, including character animator Yoshifumi Kondo, have created a visually stunning and emotionally powerful meditation on the devastating consequences of war.
MY NEIGHBOUR TOTORO
While their mother recovers from an illness, Satsuki and her little sister Mei get away from it all in an idyllic rural retreat. Far from the bustle of the city, they discover a mysterious place of spirits and magic, and the friendship of the Totoro woodland creatures. Conceived as a family film devoid of conflict and suffused with the joy of country living, MY NEIGHBOUR TOTOR is a masterpiece for the whole family, uniting the unique vision of Hayao Miyazaki with a feel-good tale of childlike wonder and true originality.
Released nationwide May 24th, 2013
An Interview with Mike, Linda & Louise Carey(0)
by Rebekah Lunt
When I finished the last page of The City of Silk and Steel, and started to think about the review I would write, (which can be seen HERE) I quickly started to become distracted. I loved the book and it had been a very satisfying read, but once I was outside of it again, I began to wonder about its creation and the logistics of writing together with two other authors. As much as I was interested in the creation and foundations of the story, I became curious about the experience of creating it and working together to achieve such a seamless chorus of voices and tales.
So, it was with great pleasure that I was able to interview the writers of the book, Mike, Linda and Louise Carey, and I hope that the questions and answers therein will enable you to enjoy and engage with the book even more than previously.
N.B. Some of the information contained within the questions and answers might be considered by some to be spoilers, so if you haven’t already read the book then read on at your own risk…
I am aware that Mike and Louise have written together previously but what inspired you to write together as a unit of three?
Mike: It just sort of came together that way, with nothing so grand or glorious as a plan. I came up with an idea, which was the seed for what became Seraglio/City, and I pitched it – but I pitched it as a comic book series, and it was very different back then from what it would eventually turn into. Prince Jamal was the main protagonist! Anyway, I couldn’t get any interest in it as a comic book, and eventually I dropped it into the Basket of Dead Ideas. Then one night the three of us had a conversation about the 1001 Nights, and what we loved and hated about it, and somehow in the course of that conversation Seraglio got resurrected and dusted off. We decided to write it together, and to approach it from a very different perspective. And the inspiration, if I can call it that, was to use the Arabian Nights Entertainment as a formal model – to borrow its radical shifts in style and content, its digressions, its nested stories. But we would do it entirely (or almost entirely) from the perspective of the female characters. Because what bugged us about the Arabian Nights, even allowing that Scheherazade is a somewhat empowered heroine, was the sexism. There’s a lot of stuff in there about the unfaithfulness of women and there are a lot of bad women who get punished. We wanted to write a homage that would also be a riposte.
What drew you to this particular sub-category of the fantasy genre?
Lou: I don’t think we really approached it with the sub-genre in mind. We’re all fascinated by stories, the ways in which they are told and how they interact with and fragment reality, and the Arabian Nights style structure of the book allowed us to explore this in some interesting ways.
Lin: Partly it was the huge scope of the Arabian Nights stories. In modern terms, they actually range over multiple genres: there’s romance, horror, adventure, even a whodunit, where two men confess to the same murder. We loved the idea of having that whole range to draw on. Then there was the chance to take on the djinni (or jinn as they’re called in some versions): terrifying, totally arbitrary creatures who could equally easily grant your dearest wish or reduce you to a smear on the ground. And just a bit, I suspect, it was the visuals. Mike and I both grew up with Arabian Nights picture books: no group of stories have been so gorgeously drawn by so many great illustrators. Vast desert sands, jewelled turbans, rocs and ifrits and the aforementioned jinn… So when the idea came up, we could visualise it straightaway.
Did you each have specific characters or voices that were more ‘yours’ than the others?
Mike: Oh yeah! Very much so. Once we had our three leads – Gursoon, Rem and Zuleika – it was immediately obvious that each of us had a favourite. Lou created Rem, and always had a very clear idea of who she was and where she was coming from. Lin liked Gursoon, the wily elder statewoman, and I wanted to write Zuleika. Yeah, I know. To hell with subtlety. I was tickled by the idea of this concubine who’s also a death machine. But also I had what I thought was a great idea for her backstory and I wanted to be the one who got to write her origin, as it were. So for those three, it was sort of a case of one of the three of us taking the lead and defining the territory. Other characters evolved in a more haphazard way. Anwar Das wasn’t even a named character in the original outline. He just happened, and once we had him we decided to make full use of him.
Lou: ‘My’ character was Rem. Although dad wrote her narrative sequences, The Tale of the Librarian of Bessa (Rem’s backstory) was mine. I think I related to her the most because, like her, I spend a lot of my time in very old libraries late at night (Oxford is great for that sort of thing).
What were the challenges of writing a multi-charactered, multi-layered, multi-storied text as a team of three? Did any of the struggles of the women to cohere as a group derive from any of the issues you faced together?
Mike: No, I don’t think our art was imitating life in any significant way. But it was a more exacting process than writing alone, certainly. Writing always includes an element of triangulation, for me. You have a clear sense of some things, a much vaguer sense of others – and for the vague ones, things will tend to get clearer as you approach them. So you reach a certain point and you finally know how this or that beat will play out. And then you go back and harmonise all the stuff that’s behind you, so it fits together smoothly. But if you’re collaborating, it can never be that simple. You can’t mess with your co-writers’ beats, so every new insight leads to a summit conference and a new version of the plan.
Speaking of the struggles of the women – the harem which grows into a city – I found this aspect to be a really satisfying examination of the possibilities of a feminist/womanist type of utopia. I really enjoyed the realism within the fantasy, and that nothing was simple and often required significant sacrifice – even to the point that whilst utopia was not necessarily maintained (or achieved in some instances) each story and character achieved its own appropriate completion and didn’t result in complete entropy or dystopia. Is the woman-centred aspect of the story something you intended?
Lin: Very definitely. The Arabian Nights inspired us both in terms of setting and in the structure: the multiple-stories approach worked well for us, allowing for a lot of self-defined tales within the larger narrative so that we didn’t have to meet up and harmonise every single chapter. But the stories in the Arabian Nights are mostly male-centred, with women seen as rescue-fodder or rewards for the heroes. And (as Mike’s said), the ones that show women with a bit more agency are often downright misogynistic: the woman uses her power to cheat on her man or betray him. So a huge focus in this story was the question: what would all these women do if they were set free from the men completely? What would they want for themselves?
There have been historical “City of Women” stories before: the oldest one I know of was by the medieval writer Christine de Pisan, and there was also a Country of Women created by the fabulous Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, in the 17th century. Both of those showed the women running a rational, peaceful society, each living very much by the values of their own age. In our case we pretty much agreed on what our utopia would look like (eg it would still have men in it, just not running everything; and plumbing and nursery schools would be more important than palaces of justice). But as soon as you start thinking about how you might really build a utopia, you come up against the real-life problems you’d face, and the fact that you have to keep on working endlessly to maintain what you’ve built. This was a fantasy, so we allowed our women to achieve their utopia and to enjoy it for a while.
Lou: From the very beginning, I was drawn to the story by its strong female characters and reversal of patriarchal conventions. Initially, though, our cast of main characters was much smaller. In the earlier stages of planning, the only characters we had really fleshed out among the women of the harem were Rem, Zuleika and Gursoon. It was mum who first began developing the other women, like Farhat and Umayma, into characters, and we soon realised that this large cast was indispensable for conveying a sense of scale, of the growth of an entire city. I think this was when the novel really started to take off, and one of my favourite parts of the writing process was coming up with the back-stories and characters of all the women, trying to imagine how they had joined the harem, and why each one would decide to join in with the attempt to retake the city.
Did you find it difficult to keep the voices authentic?
Mike: I’m not sure what authentic means in this instance. We were writing in a modern idiom, but with shout-outs to more archaic forms of language, in an attempt to pastiche nineteenth century English translations of a text that had been compiled over centuries from folktales amassed in Arabia, India, Persia and probably half a dozen other countries. The 1001 Nights was already a palimpsest, and the time it referred to was a semi-mythical one, so it felt like it was enough to capture the flavour.
We did take voice very seriously, and we probably spent more time on that one thing than on anything else. We tried out several different approaches, one of which was a much more faithful copying of the narrative voice from the Richard Burton translation. But it really didn’t fly. We needed something that would feel like that but would be a bit lighter on its feet. And the fact that Rem stands out of her time and looks directly at the modern reader, speaking to us partly as a contemporary, enabled us to have our cake and eat it.
Were there any issues of cultural belonging or ‘appropriate’ respect for a culture to which none of you belong? Or did you find that the cultural inheritance of One Thousand and One Nights has allowed this literary context (ancient eastern cultures) to become a substitute cradle for this genre? I am thinking of the effect the Grimms and the Shakespeares of the western world have had on our literature and comparing that to the effect the One Thousand and One Nights had on not just the eastern world but on ours too so that the context of The City of Silk and Steel is as familiar as gingerbread houses in the woods and witches gathered round a cauldron awaiting a king-to-be.
Mike: Well, indeed – and see previous answer. We were writing within a cultural tradition, but it’s a tradition that, by the time it reaches us, is at least twice removed from its own roots. The original core text, the Alf Layla, is eighth or ninth century. It probably originated in Persia, and with a different title, but once it got going it ricocheted around the Middle East like a rubber bullet. And everyone who got hold of it and translated it added in stories from their own culture, and changed the emphasis of some of the stories that were already there. Then when it came to the West, the best part of a millennium later, the same thing happened again in a more extreme way. The very first European translations, which I think were French, added vast amounts of material in – and the new stuff was some of the most popular! Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, for example, is generally thought to have been a European addition. So that was the source material, and it’s a glorious mish-mash of stuff. We certainly weren’t aiming to strip away those layers of interpretation to get back to the truth of the original tales or the original historical era. If anything we were adding our own layer on top of what was there.
Now a question just for Louise! Writing with a partner is becoming more common but I believe this is the first instance I have come across of a whole family, or three people, writing together. For you, as the daughter in this team of three, and working with your parents, did it pose any particular challenges to you which were different from writing with a peer?
Lou: I’ve never actually co-written anything with someone who isn’t my parent, so my experience of writing with mum and dad felt like the norm to me! There were some challenges which I think were unique to the experience though. Nagging, for example, was a bit of an issue. When ‘have you finished that chapter yet?’ became as regular a refrain at home as ‘did you remember to tidy your room/ hoover the carpet/ do the dishes?’, it made it difficult at times to work at my own pace. I suppose the gap in experience between me and my parents also made a difference. Since they’re both writers, I often felt that I should defer to their creative opinions. Luckily, they were always quick to remind me that the novel was a joint enterprise, and they never let me take a back seat in the planning process!
And finally, come on guys, are you a perfect family or what?! Having assumed no-one has ended up under the patio or disappeared in mysterious circumstances, how on earth have you managed to maintain the well being of your family dynamic at the same time as wrangling a book to completion?!
Lin: Well, just being in a family means you occasionally want to murder each other, right? I mean just the daily hassles, like the assault course to get to the cupboard and the vanishing keys which were there last night and the jamjar that someone put away empty, I mean, not even a SCRAPE! And I just did the shop! What kind of IDIOT?… So we long ago developed coping mechanisms. Mine is a time-out with a Terry Pratchett book and large quantities of chocolate: an hour of that and I’m quite civilised again.
[Mike unloads the tension by retro-gaming: he can slaughter Professor Robotnik in about six seconds, especially when I’ve just eaten the last biscuit in the pack. Louise is currently too overworked to unwind properly, so she has to make do with rolling her eyes and making a really cutting remark. It’s worked OK so far.]
The City of Silk and Steel is out now.
Where Your Nightmares Begin…(0)
This July, Pan Macmillan are incredibly excited to be publishing The Sleep Room by F.R. Tallis. This is a taut and well written page-turner which will appeal to fans of Susan Hill and Christopher Ransom.
F.R.Tallis is a writer and clinical psychologist. He has written self-help manuals, non-fiction for the general reader, academic text books, over thirty academic papers in international journals and several novels. Between 1999 and 2012 he has received or been shortlisted for numerous awards, including the New London Writers’ Award, the Ellis Peters Historical Dagger, the Elle Prix de Letrice, and two Edgars. His critically acclaimed Liebermann series (written as Frank Tallis) has been translated into fourteen languages and optioned for TV adaptation. The Forbidden, his ninth novel, is a horror story set in nineteenth-century Paris and this, The Sleep Room, is his tenth. @franktallis
Dark Continents and Silent Studios Release Contamination(0)
Contamination, a book written by author Dave Jeffery based on an original story by filmmaker Jason Wright marks a return to the horror that children of the 80’s grew up on.
Protagonist Dean Sharp wakes up from a drinking binge to find that overnight, the world has changed. People are dying in the streets as mobs wander aimlessly through town looking for the next fight. Men and women tear into one another on sight, and even children join in the fray.
“Contamination was a story I had been writing for a while, and wanted to make into a film, but there were so many other things going on, we didn’t have time,” Jason Wright explained. “It made sense then to make it into a book first, and then film it later so people would have time to read it and experience it before it was filmed.”
After being introduced to Jason at a festival by mutual friends, Dave Jeffery sat and talked with the filmmaker for hours about the project. Together they spoke of the outline for the book, and the direction it would take.
“When Jason first showed me the outline for Contamination, I couldn’t help but see it as a pulp project,” said Dave Jeffery. “The story had a gritty, brutal aspect and played with chronology which made it interesting to take on.”
Wright, with his company, Silent Studios, will begin filming of the movie version in 2014. But to release the book, the team needed a publishing house.
Jeffery, whose novel Necropolis Rising hit the #1 position in the UK last year, approached his publisher, David Youngquist at Dark Continents Publishing about getting the book into print. After Skype meetings with both Wright and Jeffery, Youngquist gave the green light for a May 2013 release of the book.
As a small press in the era of instant communication and technology that allows people to work together from opposite sides of the globe, Dark Continents is always looking for innovation and ways to reach more people and develop more markets. A partnership with a film studio provides just that, by getting Silent Studios further into the literary world and Dark Continents into the realm of film.
The birth of Contamination is unusual in the writing realm, with a novelist and filmmaker working together on the project. But as Youngquist said, “The writers in Hollywood are always complaining they don’t have enough fresh ideas, so why not have a novelist involved from the beginning?”
Contamination will be released in May 2013 in stores as paperback books, and as downloadable files for your e-readers. Get a copy and follow the fast paced story as Dean Sharp tries to sort out reality from his dreams and sanity from madness, while the fate of humankind hinges on him.
White Witch of Devil’s End DVD(0)
White Witch of Devil’s End is a spin-off from the highly regarded Jon Pertwee Doctor Who story The Daemons and will star Damaris Hayman reprising her role as Miss Hawthorne.
At the grand age of 84 (in June this year), you’d expect Damaris would be happy to be enjoying retirement quietly in her Cheltenham home … but no! When approached by producer Keith Barnfather about the idea she jumped at the chance. “I shall retire, I think, in my coffin! Miss Hawthorne was my all-time favourite role and I was enchanted by the thought of being her again for a little while.”
“I was amazed and delighted that, as an octogenarian, Damaris was prepared to take this on,” says Keith. “We had recently recorded an interview with her for our Myth Makers series profiling actors who had appeared in Doctor Who and I already knew she still had a hunger to act. But I really didn’t expect her to be so keen.”
Although eager to take the project on, Damaris knew she had to pace herself, so in an innovative move, director Anastasia Stylianou decided to film the drama in a “talking head” style – adding dramatic cutaway material to bring Damaris’s words to life!
Says Anastasia; “I knew it would be a challenge. We needed to film a 50 minute drama at least, so I decided to make an asset out of a limitation.”
Primary filming has already taken place at a cottage near Damaris’s home. The crew collected and returned Damaris each day – allowing her to return home each evening to recover and study the next day’s script!
“We used autocue to help Damaris,” says Keith. “It was an impossible task for any actor to learn so much dialogue. Damaris was a true professional and took to it instantly.”
With a planned release date of 31st October, which is appropriately also Halloween, Anastasia hopes to have the project completed for the 50th anniversary celebrations. “It’s just getting all the dramatic cutaway material ‘in the can’ that is crucial. The drama is really an anthology – a set of connecting stories about Olive’s life told, as it were, in her own words.”
When considering who to approach to write these stories which would exist within an overall theme, Keith immediately thought to contact old friend David J Howe at Telos Publishing. “I thought it would be fantastic to ask individual writers knowledgeable in the occult and magic to write each story and David, through Telos, knew so many of the best young talent in the country.”
“I was delighted when Keith got in touch,” says David Howe, “and immediately started to think of who might be a good fit for the project. Along with my partner, the award-winning author Sam Stone, we contacted several authors who we felt would be sympathetic to the material and were pleased to get them all on board for the project.”
“I took on the task of outlining the whole story,” says Sam Stone, “and then asked the writers to come up with ideas which fitted that framework. We needed to tell stories at different points in Olive Hawthorne’s life, and the writers rose to the challenge and delivered scripts which exceeded all my expectations. I then worked with them to refine the scripts into the completed screenplay.”
The writers involved in the project are, as well as David J Howe and Sam Stone, Raven Dane, Debbie Bennett, Jan Edwards and Suzanne J Barbieri, with a final script-polish from Big Finish writer Matt Fitton. All have brought a unique perspective on Olive’s life, and the end result is an anthology of tales which will surprise, entertain and hopefully move the viewer.
Does Damaris have any regrets about throwing herself into such a big commitment? “Definitely not! I was enchanted to work with Anastasia and Keith again, who are great friends anyway. After a lot of working together consulting over the scripts, I’d subsequently never enjoyed filming more – and I can’t wait now to see the final result.”
The DVD can be pre-ordered from Galaxy 4 HERE