Tuesday 30 December 2014

Bristol Book Blog end of year Book Breakdown

I read 94 books in 2014 which is almost exactly half the amount of books read in 2013. I did write a novel, and a short story collection, and edit 8 issues of Far Horizons though, so time spent reading was obviously a lot less than in 2013 -about half I reckon!

I also went to a lot of cons and ran a few events so busy book year. Very satisfying and enjoyable though.

I read 21 ARCs in 2014 compared with 11 in 2013 - I think 1 per month is more doable than 2 per month so am going to make that promise to myself, no more than 1 ARC/Review copy per month.

18 books by women (and 7 by Various - including women contributors) which is actually a lower proportion than in 2013. Must do better next year!

18 e-books and 2 audio books shows that these are still not my favoured formats.

The following books rated "Brilliant" in 2014 -  books that everyone should read, really outstanding and memorable. Highly recommended.

The Haunted Book by Jeremy Dyson

The Haunted Book by Jeremy Dyson

Excellent collection of ghost stories
Overall – Are you sure there is no-one behind you right now?

All Over Coffee by Paul Madonna

All over coffee by Paul Madonna

Overall – Poetic and artful

The Great War: July 1, 1916: The First Day…

The Great War by Joe Sacco

Overall – Just beautiful, I wish I had a wall big enough to display it

Goliath by Tom Gauld

Goliath by Tom Gauld

Overall – Art & story in perfect harmony

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth: A Novel by…

Encyclopedia of early Earth by Isabel Greenberg

Overall – very few books get quirky right, this one does

Write by Phil Daoust

Write by The Guardian

Overall – Lots of writers talking about writing, what’s not to like?

Incidents in the Night, Book One: 1 by David…

Incidents in the night by David B (translated by Brian Evenson)

Overall – Great art, great plot, great story

The Gigantic Beard That was Evil by Stephen…

The gigantic beard that was evil by Stephen Collins

Overall – This is a book with a big idea, presented simply and beautifully rendered in A4 printed on high quality paper with a reassuring heft. 

London Falling by Paul Cornell

London Falling by Paul Cornell

Overall – Police procedural with supernatural elements, the start of what promises to be a great series. 

Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan…Johannes Cabal the Detective by Jonathan L.…Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute (Johannes…The Brothers Cabal (Johannes Cabal Novels)…

The Johannes Cabal series by Jonathan L Howard

I really don't understand why Howard isn't a bigger star, one of the best comic writers working in books at the moment.

Annihilation: A Novel (Southern Reach…Authority: A Novel (The Southern Reach…Acceptance: A Novel (The Southern Reach…

The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer

From the decision to release the entire trilogy in one year, to the weirdification of the Florida coast, to mouse detergent, definitely the best thing I've read for a long while. So good I read them twice, once as they came out and a second time one after another. Two different reading experiences. And I got to meet Jeff & Ann too which was great.

The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey

The girl with all the gifts by Mike Carey

Overall – Emotional and unputdownable. I stayed up late to finish this one, that doesn't happen often any more.

The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

Overall – This very much deserves all the praise and hype, go and get a copy, now!

Invisible: Personal Essays on Representation…

Invisible: Personal essays on representation in SF/F edited by Jim Hines

Overall – Slim but packs a mighty wallop.

Derek Handley (who is one of the essayists in the book) had this to say about representation- Representation is important. When you’re a kid, it’s about having a positive role model with your defining characteristics. When you’re an adult, it’s about being reminded that you fit in somewhere and escaping into that character. And when you’re going through a major life change, it’s about finding solace in stories that show you that someone understands and that maybe you can overcome the challenges you face.

Tigerman by Nick Harkaway

Tigerman by Nick Harkaway

Overall - Harkaway just seems to be getting better, if you like his other books go and get a copy

The Moon King by Neil Williamson

The Moon King by Neil Williamson

Overall - This is a very accomplished debut that deserves a wide readership. This is very much my sort of thing. 

Do No Harm by Henry Marsh

Do no harm by Henry Marsh

Overall - Honest insight into a career as one of Britains top neurosurgeons, heavy on the medical drama.

So that's it - 2014 is almost over and 2015 is round the corner, what will it hold for me? Well I'm hoping for good news on my short story collection, my novel will receive its final polish and start doing the rounds of agents and publishers and my writing group's anthology will be published thanks to all our lovely backers on Fundsurfer. I'll be at several cons (9 worlds, Archipelacon and BristolCon for sure so far) and busy on the local lit scene with Bristol Festival of Literature, North Bristol Writing and no doubt many other local lit scene events - as usual I'll blog about them as they happen!

Happy 2014! - See you in 2015

Monday 29 December 2014

Interview with Gareth L Powell & Review of Macaque Attack

GARETH L. POWELL is an award-winning science fiction and fantasy author from Bristol. His third novel, Ack-Ack Macaque, co-won the 2013 BSFA Award for Best Novel.

You can find Gareth online here: http://www.garethlpowell.com/ and on Twitter as @garethlpowell and Ack Ack Macaque can be found on Twitter too @AckAckMacaque

I caught up with Gareth as I was sent a copy of Macaque Attack - the third and concluding part of the fantastic Macaque series. I previously interviewed him when the second book came out - http://brsbkblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/this-week-i-have-also-been-talking-to.html

Wednesday 24 December 2014

Guest post from Nathaniel Danes

Nathaniel Danes is a self-diagnosed sci-fi junkie and, according to his wife, has an over active imagination. Mostly blind, he writes to create universes where he has no limitations. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Washington, DC area.

Author Links:

Book Links:

Nathanial has dropped by to talk about his book - The Last Hero

Contact with a race of pacifists convinces mankind to lay down its weapons and keep the peace. The last Medal of Honor recipient, Trent Maxwell, trades glory for the comforts of a family after the U.S. Army disbands. All that ends when an alien menace attacks the New Earth colony, which forces a crash mobilization. Trent finds himself reactivated and traveling through space to distant worlds, in order to stop this new enemy. During the century long journey of death, love, and loss, he also deals with the law of relativity that wreaks havoc with his daughter.

Trent knelt down where Anna could throw her arms around his neck. She pulled against him tight and started crying again. Tears rolled down his face as he whispered, “I love you more than you can understand. I’m sorry.”
Her cries downed out his soft words.                        
After a minute, Trent summoned all of his strength to break free of her hold. Standing, he shared a look with Madison. She wrapped him in a loving, warm hug.  
This time she did the whispering, “Remember what I told you. Make them pay.”
He pulled away, nodding as he placed his hand on Anna’s sobbing head.
“I’ll see you both again someday. I promise.” The words bound him to a promise he wasn’t sure he could keep. 

Thursday 18 December 2014

Fundsurfer Funded!

Whilst I was away (surely you noticed?) our Fundsurfer met its funding goals and all systems are now go!

We are finalising the text (all the stories are edited and we're just filling in the fiddly bits) and the art and are now talking to the publisher about the esoterics of getting a book published (lot's of things to sort out - like choosing between B & C formats and getting an ISBN amongst many other things)

It's exciting seeing this idea come alive slowly but surely and I'm really looking forward to seeing it in the flesh, which will now definitely happen due to all our lovely funders. Each and every one of them, from the lady who gave us £2 in the pub to the guys that pledged for the £200 reward, and everyone in between, deserve a massive thanks.

I'll keep you up to date with what happens.

Friday 21 November 2014

Nunslinger Review

Nunslinger Stark Holborn

Nunslinger: The Complete Series by Stark…

The true tale of how Sister Thomas Josephine of St. Louiis Missouri, began to cross the Overland Trail to Sacramento, California with the help of one Abraham C. Muir … So starts a remarkable set of books, first serialised and now collected together in one volume for your delectation. The books recount how Sister Thomas Josephine becomes the “Six-Gun Sister”, a fugitive, running from the law, the bluecoats and the church in civil war era United States. She is waylaid on her way to the promise of a new life in Sacramento California when her wagon train is attacked by Indians. There she meets Lt. Carthy, a handsome cavalry officer and Abraham C Muir a mysterious drifter, two men that fate ties her to. Spurred by a desire to do good in a difficult world Sister Thomas Josephine embarks on a set of adventures that will keep you turning the pages.

There is some beautiful writing here, very evocative and you can almost smell the sweat, leather, beans and coffee that pervade the book. Because it was a serial it does of course feel episodic, but this is a bonus as you can rest between each novella length adventure or gorge on the whole thing as the regular cliffhangers draw you ever onwards. Full of memorable characters and places this is a must for any fan of the Western and a great place to start if you’ve never explored the genre before.

Overall – Great Western which ticks all the boxes and yet also manages to feel fresh. It also has a beautiful cover

Thursday 20 November 2014

Crowdfunding a book

Regular readers will know that I've been running a Fundsurfing campaign to get the North Bristol Writing Group anthology published:


We have gone over 50% and we have 22 days left - so we need a big push for the last three weeks!

I'd like to publicly thank everyone who has pledged so far but ask that if you haven't pledged to please do so. The minimum pledge is £1 which is less than a cup of tea in most cafes and £5 gets you the ebook and £10 gets you a copy of the physical book both of which will have your name in for being a supporter. There are plenty of other rewards so please do check out the link above.

I've also been interviewed about it over on Judy Darley's excellent SkyLightRain blog -

Thursday 13 November 2014

Interview with Jonathan Oliver - Editor of Dangerous Games

Jonathan Oliver is the multi-award winning editor of The End of The Line, Magic, House of Fear, End of the Road and Dangerous Games. He’s also written a couple of novels and a bunch of short stories. He lives in Abingdon with his family and their cat.

We asked Jonathan a bunch of questions about the latest anthology Dangerous Games

UK: 9781781082652 | 4th December 2014 | £7.99
US: 9781781082683 | 4th December 2014 | $7.99

Available in paperback and ebook

In a world ruled by chance, one rash decision could bring down the house, one roll of the dice could bring untold wealth, or the end of everything.

The players have gathered around the table, each to tell their story—often dark, always compelling. Within you will find tales of the players and the played, lives governed by games deadly, weird, or downright bizarre.

In this anthology of the weird and the macabre, multi-award-winning editor Jonathan Oliver brings
together a diverse collection of voices from some of today’s finest writers, to create an original and fresh collection that’s unlike anything you’ve read before.

Dangerous Games features new works from Hugo award-winners, brilliant new talents and best-selling authors, including: Chuck Wendig, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Lavie Tidhar, Benjanun Sriduangkaew, Paul Kearney, Libby McGugan, Yoon Ha Lee, Gary Northfield, Melanie Tem, Hillary Monahan, Tade Thompson, Rebecca Levene, Ivo Stourton, Gary McMahon, Robert Shearman, Nik Vincent, Helen Marshall, and Pat Cadigan.

Roll the bones at your own risk December 2014…

The Joy of Cross Genre-ing a guest post by Erik Williams

Erik Williams: Website / Twitter

Erik Williams is a former Naval Officer and current defense contractor (but he's not allowed to talk about it).  He is also the author of the novel Demon and numerous other small press works and short stories. He currently lives in San Diego with his wife and three very young daughters. When he's not at his day job, he can usually be found changing diapers or coveting carbohydrates.  At some point in his life, he was told by a few people he had potential.  Recently, he told himself he's the bee's knees.  Erik prefers to refer to himself in the third person but feels he's talked about himself enough and will grant your eyeballs the freedom they deserve. 

Cross genre novels?  I guess you could say all genre novels, in some form, are a cross genre novel.  I mean, there is no such thing as a pure horror novel.  Often there are elements of historical fiction (like Interview with the Vampire), or crime and mystery (like Falling Angel), or even military fiction (like my recent novel Demon). 

The point is, genres overlap.  They always have.  However, there are that stand out more than other. 
You can see them practically bleeding multiple genres, and with awesome results.

So, here are five cross genre novels worth your time:

  1. Dying of the Light by George R. R. Martin.  I was going to list Martin’s Fevre Dream here (historical fiction meets vampires on the Mississippi) but Dying of the Light just sticks out more as a cross genre whammy of a book. It’s got blood magic, the resurrection of the dead, the world coursing toward apocalypse, while at the same time being a “hey, we’re getting the band back together” story.  It’s equal parts horror and strange love letter to 70’s era rock.Dying of the Light by George R. R. Martin                                                                                                                             
  2. Song of Kali by Dan Simmons.  Simmons has really delved, in recent years, into a lot of historical/horror fiction but, for me, Song of Kali is still his best.  It’s got horror!  It’s got mystery!  It’s got the most unflattering travel journal of Calcutta you’ll ever read!Song of Kali by Dan Simmons                                                                                                                            
  3. The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers.  When you think about it, Tim Powers is probably the greatest cross genre writer ever.  You can take his whole catalogue and throw it up here.  But I’ll stick to what is probably his most popular book.  Time travel, Victorian London, murder, Egyptian mythology mixed with sorcery, people that might be immortal, disfigured crazy people living in the London sewers, oh and duplicates of people.  Yeah, try classifying this book under a single genre                                                                               .The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers                                                                                 
  4. VALIS by Philip K. Dick.  I don’t even know how to describe this book.  Sci-fi meets religious thriller?  Modern thriller meets philosophical exegesis?  Or simply a fantastical autobiography (I mean, Philip K. Dick is two characters in this book: the narrator and Horselover Fat (which is the German translation of “Philip” and “Dick” respectively).  No matter how you cut it, it’s a strange book but also fantastic.                                                                          VALIS by Philip K. Dick                                                                                   
  5. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess.  You might say, “Hey, this is dystopian fiction. It’s not cross genre.” I respectfully disagree.  This is more than dystopian fiction.  You could also call it a psychological thriller.  A horror novel.  Hell, you could call it social commentary meets sci-fi meets crime.  However, to me, it is also an early rendition of the modern serial killer story.  I don’t say that because Alex is a serial killer (he isn’t).  I say that because he is absolutely a person who has an anti-social personality (a key ingredient in serial killers).  The novel’s examination of his personality (and attempts to alter him) is just as effective as any rendered in Thomas Harris’s novels                                                                  .A Clockwork Orange
Many thanks to Erik for the interesting post!

Monday 10 November 2014

Thoughts on Interstellar

Spoilers definitely ahead.

"So you're the guy who hates films?" - That was the comment I got when I was introduced to a friend of a friend. Perhaps I should start crowing about films I like as much as ranting about films I hate? I'm passionate about my likes and dislikes.

Interstellar though? It's another hate, and let me tell you why.

Although there were a lot of science errors that wasn't the reason I walked out of the cinema with almost an hour left of the film to play. It was down to the implausibility & unbelievability of the plot, the lack of characterisation, the clumsy childish script and it was just plain dull.

It's supposed to be all emotional, but without putting the work in to make us care about the characters all that emotion on screen just leave you cold, seems like annoying whinging rather than pulling at your heartstrings, like Nolan obviously wants to.

The film starts with a Death of Grass plot - although set firmly, and only, in the USA - the situation in the rest of the world is not discussed but the US is a dustbowl with corn being the last viable crop. There is an anti-science thread, the government hide the fact they are spending money on a space program, the world needs "farmers, not engineers" (although it seems McConaughey's character Cooper, as a former astronaut, is the only local who can fix the robotic combine harvesters and everyone still drives everywhere).

Anyway a "ghost" communicates with Cooper's daughter Murph - duh wonder why it was her chosen? a set of co-ordinates which leads Cooper to the remnants of NASA who are about to launch a mission through a wormhole where Twelve brave explorers have previously gone  to find a new home for humanity. Queue an extended homage to Kubrick's 2001 which lasts until they get to the wormhole.

Apparently Cooper is the right man for the job of piloting the spaceship (it's just like riding a bike apparently) and he readily agrees although on the actual mission his fellow crewmates keep giving him the exposition in a "another thing we didn't tell you before we blasted off into space" dialogue. Clumsy. One of the things they didn't bother to tell him was that the potentially habitable planets were orbiting a black hole. Still he's only the pilot.

After all the hype that this was the most accurate black hole in the history of cinema it's a bit odd that this is where the director decided to ignore the science the most. Discarding even basic planetary orbital dynamics and using the theory of relativity was OK until you think about what being so close to that gravity well would actually do to the planet, never mind the people.

There's a plan A - a spaceship that requires a manipulation of gravity to work. And Michael Caine's character has been working on an equation for the last forty years that will get it to work. There's a big reveal later on that the only way to make the equation work would be to get information from beyond the event horizon of the massive black hole around which some of the planets the explorers have found orbit.

There's a plan B which is to seed the new world with frozen embryos and Adam and Eve it. Matt Damon plays a scientist explorer that apparently later turns out to be a bad guy (I left very shortly after his character was introduced) and apparently Cooper is the one who communicates with his daughter, and therefore his own earlier self, the co-ordinates, which send him off to save humanity by communicating with himself in the past to go off and save humanity by communicating with himself  in the past to ... yeah it's a paradox even though this isn't a time travel film. There is a discussion of relativity, because it seems that if you go down to one of the planets each hour on that planet is 7 years back on Earth.

Anyway the plot bollocks isn't the real reason I hated this film, although I'm less likely to excuse it because of the poor scripting and characterisation.

Nolan's agenda was showing, a lot, as he artlessly hammered you with it, again and again. But it's confused, because you know at the same time he's obviously criticising the way NASA is funded he is also telling you that science is dumb (in a death of grass - it's our own fault sort of way) and later in the film basically hitting you over the head with his main message. We shouldn't (apparently) use logic and reasoning because what your gut tells you is much more important, because "love" transcends time and space and is the fifth dimension. Yep that's right at the heart of this film is some seriously woo hippy nonsense.

I'm so glad I walked out whilst he was still setting up this crass message. You see Cooper chooses a rational path at first (there may be other characters in this film but they pretty much have zero agency and it's all about Cooper) which turns out to be wrong.

Apparently after Matt Damon exhibits why "the best of us" is a stupid, cowardly jerk (yes it's another brilliant scientist being dumb trope). The film jettisons any pretence of being scientific, rips off Kubrick's 2001 a bit more and Cooper enters the black hole.

Anyway that's after I left so not sure I can criticise the last hour of the film. I'll concentrate on why I walked.

It was dumb. It was lazy. I failed to engage with any character, although everyone else only existed to orbit Cooper's gravity. It was dull. Nolan spent far too long setting up things that could have been better told in narrative summary and frittered away some interesting stuff in narrative summary which would have been better in immediate scene.

I can cope with the dumb if the movie entertains me. Hell I go to Bad Film Club every month and watch 'aweful' films and enjoy them. However the key difference (apart from sobriety) is entertainment. The film was just boring, as well as nonsensical. And to me, that's unforgivable.

Friday 7 November 2014

Interview with Stark Holborn

Stark Holborn ©

Small time liquor bootlegger, purveyor of Penny Westerns and author of Nunslinger.
Stark Holborn is an enigmatic character with a six-gallon hat and a past shrouded in mystery. Nunslinger is Stark’s first published work.
We at Bristol Book Blog caught up with Stark and Hornswoggled an interview whilst Stark was busy breaking in a fractious Equus Ferus right here in the Mild, Mild West:

Book Giveaway - Nunslinger!

We've been very lucky here at the Bristol Book Blog to snatch a couple of copies of Nunslinger from under the noses of those varmints over at Hodder. Now these books are hotter than a desert full of cactus and tastier than baked beans and jerky, and you can get your hands on one before publication day.

All you have to do is recommend us your favourite book in the Western genre. Of course Bristol Book Blog likes recommendations so tell us the author, the name of the book and why it's your favourite Western and you could lasso a copy of this mighty fine lookin', (heck it's real goshdarn purty), book.

2 Lucky winners will be in the quick draw on Wednesday November 19th so get your thinkin' caps on and good luck pardners!

Urban Fantasy Magazine

The first issue of Urban Fantasy Magazine is out as a "pay what you like" download. I've written a few reviews for them, which will be in forthcoming issues. Take a look & download, pay what you like for the great content - https://portal.urbanfantasymagazine.com/api/v1/downloads/pwyw/1

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Reviews - The Thicket, by Joe R Lansdale & The guest cat by Takashi Hiraide

The Thicket by Joe R Lansdale

The Thicket by Joe R. Lansdale

The story opens with Jack’s parents dying of smallpox. His grandfather decides to take him and his sister to their aunt’s and along the way they cross a set of bankrobbers who kidnap his sister. Jack hires two unconventional bounty hunters: a dwarf named Shorty and a black gravedigger named Eustace who has a Hog companion (not pet). It’s set in turn of the century Texas and the hunters must travel to “The Thicket” an iniquitous den of thieves, murderers, rapists and other ne’er do wells with several adventures along the way.

“He’s right you know,” Jimmy Sue said, “ Just a year ago I kept thinking this ain’t fair, the way things have turned out for me. Then it comes to me clear as spring rain. Life is just what it is, and it ain’t fair at all.”
“Can’t we make it fair?”
“You can try, but all that other unfairness keeps seeping in.”

There’s an underlying message that life is just what it is and a tension between God-fearing Jack and reality, as the other characters see it. There is a loss of innocence and a worry of corruption threaded throughout. Lansdale is a wordsmith, full of pretty turns of phrase (or should that be ‘purty’) and the Wild West is beautifully pictured. 

”I had a thought that if I didn’t run for it I was going to be dead next, so I broke and made like a rabbit, hit that back door so hard it came off its hinges, and me and it went out into the back there. A bullet came past me like it had to meet someone downtown and was late, and gave me a hot kiss on the ear as it passed.”

The plot is fairly standard for Westerns but that doesn’t make it any less of a page turner. It’s full of memorable characters but of course the Hog is the best one. 

Overall – Dark Western with a mean streak and gallows humour. Recommended.

The guest cat by Takashi Hiraide

The Guest Cat

A couple in their 30’s renting a cottage in a quiet part of Tokyo work as freelance writers, from home. They no longer have much to say to each other. One day a cat invites itself into their lives, visiting from next door, a “guest cat”. It transforms their lives, they begin to order their lives around the cat’s visits, cooking it special meals, playing for hours with it with a ping pong ball. Then the landlord dies and everything changes. This is a philosophical book about ownership and property and a very quick read (140 pages). It lacks a certain feeling of story, being more espisodic and without a clear structural beginning, middle and end. If you can get past that and are a cat lover I think you’ll love this book. The prose is quite beautiful and thoughtful but lack of story meant it failed to sink its teeth into my imagination. The narrator notes that he wrote a number of articles that turned into the book you’re reading and I wonder if this is autobiographical. There’s a number of translator’s notes in the back which further elucidate what could be obscure facts about Japanese society.

Overall – Cute, thoughtful and well observed cat and cat owner behaviour.

Monday 3 November 2014

Interview with Tom Greer

Tom Greer was born, raised and educated in Glasgow. He's also lived in London, Germany, Belfast and the North West of England and currently lives in the South West of England.

An Expendable Spy is his debut novel.

Follow Tom Greer on Twitter @tomgreerwriter

Visit and Like Tom Greer's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/tomgreerwriter

We asked Tom all the usual questions

Friday 31 October 2014

ICYMI - Book giveaways

The Bristol Book Blog is currently running two book giveaways.

You can snag a copy of Ellen Allen's The Sham - http://brsbkblog.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/the-sham-book-giveaway.html

Ellen shared her playlist with us at the Blog with key songs at key moments and has kindly provided some books for a giveaway (ebook, any format) - All you have to do to snag a copy is provide the book blog with your reading playlist - do you read to music? if so what do you listen to? The most interesting, entertaining replies will receive a copy of the book (10 copies in total):

AND you can also get a copy of Andrew Goodman's Oliver Drummond and the four horsemen - http://brsbkblog.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/interview-with-andrew-goodman.html

Tiberius Found,young adult fiction,YA fiction, YA action adventure

All you need to enter is to name the four Horsemen in the comments on the link above! Names will be drawn from a hat in two weeks time.

Thursday 30 October 2014

Interview with Andrew Goodman

Today's guest is Andrew Goodman who is now onto his second series of books since we last spoke to him.

Andrew Goodman,young adult, fiction, YA, action, adventure

Hello, my name is Andrew and I write stories for young adults. It's been seventeen minutes since my last writing session.

Actually, I'm not only a writer of novels but also short stories and short- & feature-length screenplays – I was a semi-finalist in the 2009 British Short Screenplay Competition and was commissioned to write a 90-minute feature in 2012 for SeeView Pictures.

Tiberius Found and Tiberius Bound wee my first novels published in paperback and ebook formats, and are the initial two books book of a three-part series: The Emperor Initiative, with final subsequent instalment to be released in 2015. October 2014 will also see the release of my first “Oliver Drummond” supernatural adventure novels set in the 1920s: Oliver Drummond and The Four Horsemen, which sees schoolboy Oliver ‘Bulldog’ Drummond pitting his wits against occult groups, ghosts, murderers and traitors who want to gain control over the horseshoes from the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

You can read my Blog here.

For anyone that hasnt read them can you tell us a bit about your books?

I write action/adventure novels for the Young Adult market, although it seems that most of my readership passed through the target demographic of 12-18 many years ago! My first two books are parts one and two in a three-part series called The Emperor Initiative which sees a 16-year-old boy on the run from a group of scientists who want to finish the job they started when he was born.
The series is set in the near future (2028) and follows Daniel Henstock as he discovers he’s been genetically engineered – assigned the codename Tiberius – and has to flee the country to save himself. He goes to America, intent on unearthing the truth about his origins, but only succeeds in putting more people in danger. The Initiative, however, don’t easily give up and he decides to take the fight to them when they abduct and threaten the life of the only person he knows he can trust.
The three books in the series – Tiberius Found, Tiberius Bound and Tiberius Crowned – see Daniel unsure of whom he can trust, learning skills and abilities he never thought possible, suffer terrible hurt and loss, fall in love, and come face-to-face with the person at the top of the food chain responsible for his origins. Bit of a roller coaster, for the young man.

Tell us a bit more about the last book you wrote

My latest book – Oliver Drummond and The Four Horsemen – is a period adventure, set in 1926, and follows schoolboy Oliver ‘Bulldog’ Drummond as he becomes involved in the mysterious death of a government scientist. He quickly learns that all is not as it seems. The discovery of three horseshoes from The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse leads to a race to unearth the final artifact, and Oliver is determined to not let them fall into the wrong hands. If he fails then the Horsemen will be unleashed upon the world and under the control of a man hell-bent on dominion.
He comes face-to-face with ghosts, traitors, murderers and people who have no qualms to kill and torture to fulfill their ambitions. Not to mention meeting the Horsemen themselves. And those strange feelings he has for a girl, in the pit of his stomach, doesn’t help matters…
The novel is the first in a planned series of ‘Oliver Drummond’ adventures with the next already well into the planning stage.

Tiberius Found,young adult fiction,YA fiction, YA action adventure

What did you learn about writing whilst writing the last book you wrote?
How much fun the lack of technology for my characters could be! When they’re in danger they can’t simply get on their mobile and summon help. I found the world of post-World War One a great time – Europe was still re-building even eight years after the War, and suspicion and intrigue was rife. Science was still in its infancy and it was a time of discovery and doubt. Great elements for a supernatural adventure!

Do you have a set writing process, if so what is it?
I like to spend a lot of time planning and blocking a story out. I know that this process doesn’t work for everyone but I find the blocks as stepping-stones that help keep me on track. That doesn’t mean I have to follow them rigidly if I think of something better during the writing process.
When I’m in the writing stage, I write. At any time available. Once the first draft is finished I leave it for a few weeks before moving onto the editing stages and do however many edits I feel necessary to make it as good as it can be. If, at that point, I’m engaging a professional editor then I’d send it off and await for the shredding to begin…
Once I've got the finished work, I format into eBook and print versions, get the artwork sorted through third parties, and get ready for publication. Simple.

Do you write a lot of short stories?
I used to. I think it was part of the learning process, of how to write stories. A novel can be quite a daunting thought but a few thousand words are much more achievable for a person starting to write. That’s not to say short stories are an easy option, often the opposite is true. You have far fewer words to bring a convincing story to a satisfactory conclusion that means you can’t have any fat.

Do you prefer the long or short form? How do you feel about Flash Fiction?
I prefer writing novels, these days. Although, if the mood takes me then a short story can keep the juices flowing nicely. Flash fiction is great! Love it. Very, very difficult to do well and there are even fewer words to play with. I was very happy in the summer to win the BeaconLit Writing Festival flash fiction competition, which had a 150-word limit.

Which character in your books do you most identify with and why?
I really like Miles Brennan (in the Tiberius novels) and James Burghley (Oliver’s uncle).
We’re never really sure if Brennan is someone who can be trusted and he’s keeping so many secrets that I’m not sure if he even knows the answer! In my dream film cast list I’d have Gerard Butler play him. Anyone know Gerard who can suggest this?
James Burghley is a man in his thirties who wants fun and adventure in his life, and who, too, has lots of secrets. He’s quite laid back, with a quirky sense of humour, but when the situation demands is prepared to stand up and be counted

Which bit of your writing are you most proud of?
I like to include a touch of humour to my writing, but without making it too obvious. I love it when a situation creates itself and a punch-line or quip neatly presents itself.
However, the first time I saw one of my books in print format was amazing. An eBook is ok, but holding that paperback the first time was a special moment.

Tell us a bit about how you got published? Did you go via a slush pile? Get an agent before a publisher?

I decided to follow my usual route of Amazon self-publishing with ‘Oliver…’ although I have submitted it to a few agents just to see what the waters are like. I used the Kindle Direct Publishing platform (for the eBook version) and its sister company CreateSpace (for the print/paperback version), as I did for for my other previous novels, and find the process quick and easy to follow.

There are a number of idiosyncrasies specific to each of the above publishing platforms but I've got through the growling-at-the-computer-screen phase and know what I need to do now, to make the job as quick and easy as it can be.

The world of publishing is still changing, and will continue to do so for a while yet, and there is no shame in self-publishing these days, as long as your work is of the highest possible standard.

In one sentence what is your best piece of advice for new writers?
Keep reading, keep writing, be open to constructive criticism and develop a very, very thick skin.
Don’t be too precious about your work, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

OK, So not quite one sentence…


Andrew has very kindly provided three copies of the latest book - Oliver Drummond and the Four Horsemen as a give away (ebook, any format). All you need to enter is to name the four Horsemen in the comments below! Names will be drawn from a hat in two weeks time.

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