Ecko Endgame Cover Art

Ecko Endgame

Ecko Endgame

Cover art is a very special thing. It’s the tipping point between a book being in your head, and the thing being real and breathing and there on the shelf. It’s seeing a concept or a character brought to life. And then, of course, there’s that all-important cover quote – that one-liner that has to sell your glorious vision to the world outside…

As ever, Martin has done a storming job with this one.

With cheers for Natalie at Titan Books, as well!

LonCon 3: Madhouse!!

Hula DalekThere are some unwritten rules to bring a bookseller at a Con. For example: you’ll hear the following phrases many times over the course of a weekend: ‘I’ve got too many books at home, I can’t buy any more’, ‘I can’t buy books, there’s no space in my luggage’, or the slightly more extreme, ‘If I buy any more books, I’ll need a new house!’

Apparently, there are a lot of SF/F readers with money to burn, not only on books and luggage space, but on the inevitable new house when they try to squeeze one more Kingkiller Chronicle into their already bulbous bookshelves.

IMG_2485Seriously, I’ve never seen anything like it. Not the bulbous shelves, (though our stall was buckling under the weight of fantastical literature), but the willingness of people to buy books. Those from over the water must’ve come with empty flightcases, because there were no concerned comments about luggage space. People were picking up five and ten and fifteen books at a time, hardcovers and signed books, books to enable them to meet their favourite authors, books to take home to friends, books that just looked interesting…  In a world where bookshops close faster than you can list them, something in me was jumping with childish glee at so much pleasure taken in the printed page.

Titan Books!One American fan commented that you only get a 20% – 30% crossover of SF/F books between the UK and the US. It hadn’t occurred to me before – but of course that’s why. If you go to a WorldCon, then the opportunity to broaden your horizons (and collection) is tremendous. Not only books, but authors and friends – no wonder you travel with only a clean pants and a Visa.

Slenderman Vs. MarkAnyway. More unwritten rules: usually, at Cons, we have time to escape our shackles and explore. Not this time! The sheer mass of fans might have been deceptively diluted by the size of ExCel – but all of them came to see us, sooner or later. I escaped for my couple of panels, and a slightly leftfield 40-minute session in the basement with the cleaning team, going through bin bags and looking for my wallet (thrown away earlier in the day, and fortunately retrieved). Even from behind the stall, though, the whole experience was intense, exhilarating, exhausting and wondrous, all in equal measure.

My Sigismund SistersMore than anything, it was fantastic to see so many people, so many friends, all together in one place. Friends from my twitter days, met in the flesh for the first time; friends from my Norwich past, back in the present as our lives rotate towards each other, friends from fandom, all over the world.

@ksonney and @ursulavAll-in-all, it was quite overwhelming. And after Nine Worlds and the Week of Madness between, its no wonder everyone came home saying, ‘Look, I love you all. But leave me the fuck alone ’til at least next Thursday.’

Free Universe!Well done, LonCon. That was tremendous!

 

 

 

 

 

Nine Worlds – London Geekfest

IMG_2406So – there was headbanging to Rhapsody, there was Max dressed as Sharknado, there was Cards Against Humanity as the rain poured down just past our shoulders. There was that strange, polish-smell that only the Radisson has, and the hotel’s latest menagerie of odd glass animals.

There was Toothless, there were early morning doughnuts, thanks to Pornokitsch, and a whole conversation about Adrian Tchaikovsky’s eyebrows. There was talking Social Media with Adam Christopher, Sophie Calder, James Oswald and Tom Hunter (the thing about Merlin is absolutely true, okay?). There was much wine, and much garage food, and the usual round of Con-scurvy. And there were many friends, Dragonladies and Fox Spirits and Genki Gear and Soapasauruses (Soapasauri?) and a much-welcome visit from Rufus Evsion, whom I haven’t seen in far, far too long.

IMG_2410And all that’s before I even <get> to the books. But you know about those, right?

IMG_2421Nailed by knees to the Dealers’ Table or not, I can see that Nine Worlds has managed something wonderful – it does ‘welcoming’ better than anyone else. Don’t misunderstand, our community is family and has always been open to all, but Nine Worlds is like a sampler, it offers a little taste of everything. It’s a perfect place for a newcomer to find out what they like, and where they’re happiest. With badges on offer for personal pronouns and levels of sociability, it’s also a safe environment, where everyone can be themselves. For those not new to Cons, it’s the perfect place for people to cross the streams – to uncover the mysteries of Greater Geekdom, and find new avenues to explore.

IMG_2425As ever, thanks to the host of authors who came to sign for us. I’m always sorry that I can’t get to more panels (program was packed and it all sounded like SO much fun), but there was plenty going on everywhere in the hotel, and everyone was having a blast.

A new generation is born, it seems. We already know they’re cosplayers, and they play games – but it seems they’re readers and comics-readers too. And that must be a win!

Gail Carriger's fans!

 

 

 

Social Media, Clerics and a Very Large Gin – the Stuff I’m Doing At Cons

Large GinOkay, you know those ubiquitous blog posts where authors list all the stuff they’re doing at forthcoming Cons? This would be one of those.

But first, a quick apology.

If there *is* still anyone tentatively now brushing aside the cobwebs to see what’s lurking in this abandoned and distopian blog, it will be back soon, I promise. It’s partially a genuine lack of time, and partially an equally genuine lack of getting around to it. Procrastination, it seems, is directly proportional to weariness.

Anyway! As the disturbed dust tumbles from the long-forgotten ceiling, we brush it aside to see the wonders we had so long missed…

Tomorrow, Thursday 7th August, I will be at Nine Worlds Geekfest, and you can find me nailed by my knees to the Forbidden Planet trading table as usual (though I think it’s closer to the bar, this year). Feel free to bring savoury snackage and gin to Alex, Sarah, Craig and myself, as we wrangle both tills and authors into submission.

You can also find me on the Social Media panel on Sunday in County A at 11:45am, along with Tom Hunter, Adam Christopher, Sophie Calder and James Oswald, all of whom will tell you that you need to blog more than once every three months.

Next weekend, I will be at LonCon, again behind the Forbidden Planet table, but also at the following events: –

The Social Media panel (again), Friday 11:00 – 12:00, Capital Suite 10, this time alongside Wesley Chu, Julie Crisp, Max Gladstone, and Emma Newman

And on Saturday 13:30 – 15:00 in Capital Suite 8+11, I’ll be with
Django Wexler, Scott Lynch, Den Patrick and P. C. Hodgell, discussing the humble Cleric – and why exactly your party needs one. Or does it?

In between the two, on Wednesday 13th August, I will be joining a HUGE host of Titan Books and Angry Robot authors at the Summer Invasion of Forbidden Planet.

And honestly, by the end of all of this, I may well be in need of a cleric myself. 4d8 hit points back and make that a double with ice, please, Mother Superior.

 

 

The Sci Fi Weekender

BeachOkay, I admit: I went to the Sci Fi Weekender with a certain set of pre-conceptions – and a certain set of thermals. The memories of the previous year’s skull-freezing shower will haunt me ‘til I’m old and grey.

But sometimes, it’s good to be wrong.

One warm caravan; one hot shower. One view of mountains in the morning. Ducks that waddled past our window, in that businesslike way that only ducks can manage. All-in-all, the Weekender turned out to be an excellent event – and the business wasn’t just about the ducks.

IMG_2152Behind the trading table, we saw the most fantastical costumes – from a trio of Deadpools to the gorgeous armour of the Chaos Marine, from Su’s Death of Rats to the beer-drinking, cross-play Leia. It seems the event has become all about the dressing up. Everyone was getting into it, and not just for the Masquerade – I find myself wondering if I can still fit the more interesting end of my wardrobe, but hey, that’s another story.

IMG_2157And on the subject of stories, I thoroughly enjoyed my fiction panels – the books stream had a series of interesting topics, a lot of energy and insight, and a good and positive audience. There was a lot of feedback, people getting involved and asking questions – and that was how it should be. Well done, Sam – that’s never an easy job!

Snapping the SnapperIt was also one of these events where your twitter people come out of the woodwork, introducing themselves and putting faces to @labels. It was lovely to meet so many of you for the first time, and to realise just how far Ecko has reached. Knowing that your book had actually touched people’s lives will never, ever, cease to be amazing.

Louis Spins a TuneOther surprises included Sci Fi London’s Louis Savy spinning a mean seat on the Thursday night, and discovering I can apparently still dance – thought that was to Pat Sharp (who else?) on the Saturday. And might have needed beer.

Simon BisleyAnd props to both Bisley and Fabry, bless them, for being so helpful!

Deadpool's New Reading
All-in-all, the Sci Fi Weekender has taken on a new look – and as cosplay becomes more and more popular, who knows where it will go?

More pictures here.

The #Rabbit: Social Media and Enthusiasm

RabbitAfter a remark on Twitter this morning, this is a little conversation about enthusiasm and social media marketing. I call it, ‘The Rabbit’…

Person 1: I want to give your business a rabbit!
Person 2: A rabbit.
P1: Yes, a rabbit. It’ll be free – we’re not going to charge you for it – and it’ll be a fantastic social media win. Think about it, cute creature, it’ll go viral in fifteen minutes.
P2: You want to put a rabbit in my business.
P1: Yes, absolutely. In the window! It’ll have our logo shaved into its fur. It’s part of a nationwide promotion—
P2: A nationwide promotion of rabbits?
P1: Well, you know what they say! No, seriously, we’ll be encouraging people to take pictures of them and hashtag them #rabbit – it’ll be fantastic, we’ll be trending in no time. And we’d love you to be a part of it!
P2: Okay, okay, hashtagged rabbit, I get it. But I have a couple of questions.
P1: Go for it!
P2: I take it you’ve already sourced this rabbit?
P1: Yes, it’s a black one – we saw it and thought of you.
P2: Great, thanks. So – how are we going to feed it?
P1: Oh, that’s easy. You can just bung it some lettuce or something.
P2: And how about water? And cold? And who’s going to look after it?
P1: You must have an animal lover on your staff – they can take it home with them in the evening.
P2: On a London Tube? And if this poor thing’s in the window, then what about hay, and bedding, and rabbit poo? And who’s going to keep shaving the logo – your logo – back into its fur?
P1: Um…
P2: And then I really have to ask: if you’re nationally hashtagging this wee beastie #rabbit, and it’s bearing your company logo – then how does its presence benefit us specifically? How it does it make us stand out? I don’t mean to be corporate, or anything, but if I’m going to offer you essentially free advertising space, how does this #rabbit actually benefit my business?
P1: But – cute creature, on twitter, everyone will love it! They’ll take pictures! Be like that street bloke and his cat!
P2: Look, I get where you’re going – of course everyone loves a cute bunny, and there will inevitably be pictures. But it requires a lot of management, it carries your logo rather than ours, and it doesn’t differentiate my business, or make my brand stand out. And, forgive me, unless this rabbit’s pooing chocolate drops, it doesn’t give me something that I can actually sell.
Person 1: So – you’re saying no to a free rabbit? In your window? Twitter viral win?
P2: With the best will in the world, I’m not sure this one is going to work for us. Come back to me when you’ve got something in a #wampa. That’s right up our street, and that shit, I know we can move.

Social Media enthusiasm is great. But when you’re making a proposal, please think it through.

Do You Know What Being a Single Mum is Like?

Being a single Mum is like getting the early shift every morning. It’s like endless questions – like being a teacher, and a scientist, and an encyclopedia, and a Prophet of the Great Avatar Google. It’s like listening to someone enthuse about their favorite subject, over and over, for hours and hours. It’s like having the share that enthusiasm, whether you’ve had enough or not.

Being a single Mum means someone in your company absorbing everything you do. Your speech, your moods, your habits, your reactions – every time you move or open your mouth, you teach him something whether you want to or not. It’s like having to watch yourself, to be conscious of your own behavior and emotional reactions. Being a single Mum means having someone that needs you – no matter how big he may seem to be. He comes to give you a cuddle and look at you out of baby-wide eyes, and then he licks you and farts.

Do you know what being a single Mum is like?

It’s like your personal life ends at 3:15pm. It’s like a scheduling nightmare, like running endless errands. It’s like never having any money. These days, it’s like being a political scapegoat, spattered over the front pages of the right wing press, like cringing every time you read the propaganda of your own demographic.

It’s like being a demographic.

Being a single Mum is like never going out. It’s like never being able to manage a routine at the gym. It’s like setting up events, doing all the background work, and then not being able to attend them. It’s like seeing evenings you’d love to attend pass by, time after time after time. It’s like seeing friends roll their eyes – at first tolerantly, eventually in exasperation – when they invite you out and you can’t go. Again. At last, there comes a time when they, one after another, stop asking. And you can’t really blame them.

Do you know what being a single Mum is like?

It’s like creeping in to your son’s room just before you go to bed, and seeing him sleeping – his hands raised into chubby fists as if he were a tiny child. It’s like standing there in wonder at this thing, this miracle, this best of friends; like touching his hair with no idea as to how he grew so big, so fast. It’s like wondering where his childhood went, and wishing you could give him a real cuddle without him going ‘ewwwww MUM!’ and trying to punch you in the ear. It’s like knowing the next years will fly by, and he will be grown beyond you before you know it. It’s like love and awe and poignance – you know you will have to let him go, and that that distance is starting, even now. God knows, you may be claustrophobic at times, but watching him sleep, you know it will all be gone too fast for you to follow.

And one day, you know, and all too soon, you will be standing there, a somewhat threadbare cuddly cat in your hands, looking up at your son’s bristling chin and wishing with all your heart that you could trade all your independence for one more sight of your wonderful and clever and funny and sleeping child.

I’m not prone to poetry. But being a single Mum can do that to you.

Sleeping Cub

Ecko on Audible!

UnzippedA very VERY short blog post: –

Over the MOON to be able to announce that Audible have bought the rights for Ecko Rising and Ecko Burning! (Insert massive leaping-up-and-down-SQUEEEEE here). Have no schedule yet, but more news as it comes to light (sound?)

It’s a funny feeling – in some ways even stranger than Ecko becoming a book, or a book cover. In my head, he has a very clear and distinctive voice, and he’s had that voice for a long time. I listen to a lot of audiobooks, and the idea of hearing him in someone else’s mouth, as it were, is a peculiar lack of control, another step back from the content.

But, as we know all too well – complete control went out the window the day that book deal was signed. And that can only be a good thing!

 

Fuck!

VulgarI’ve had flack for Ecko’s use of the word ‘fuck’ – he does use it like a fucking comma. If I was going to be a fucking smartarse, I’d explain that the presence and absence of the verb ‘to fuck’ was one of the manifest fucking differences between the London and fantasy worlds… but it seems that was too fucking subtle.

Which is ironic.

So – in celebration of a word we (almost) all fucking use, of its versatility, its energy, its teenage angst and its raffish defiance, and of the simple satisfaction of fucking using it…

SmurfsFuck is a command. Someone pisses you off, you tell them to Fuck off. Simple. Fuck is an expletive, as in Fuck me, Fuck you, Fuck this. Fuck is verb and emphasis, like Fucking jerk, or Pass the fucking salt. Fuck gives you a way to tell someone they’ve overstepped the line, Shut the fuck up, Go fuck yourself.

Fuck is creative and immensely satisfying. Telling someone to Go take a flying fuck (at a rolling doughnut) will make them step back a pace. Fuck expresses and emphasises confusion like no other word, What the fuck, What the fucking fuck?

Other GodsFuck is a word for a night in the pub, Fucked again. Or for those who give you grief while you’re there, Fucktards and Motherfuckers. It can be used on the way home, or in the morning, to great and colourful effect, My God, I’m never fucking drinking again.

Fuck is rebellion, teenage or otherwise, Don’t fuck with me, Don’t do me any fucking favours, Fuck the system, Who gives a fuck?

Fuck expresses depressive anger, Fuck the world, and equally, the encouragement that’s its opposite, Don’t get fucked up, fucked over, She isn’t fucking worth it.

Fuck expresses confusion, Who the fuck are you, What the fuck is this, You’re fucking kidding me. It expresses exasperation, You dumb fuck.

GraffitoWith the right character, Fuck is a word that adds an underline to almost any emotion, that exaggerates speech and reaction, that can be put fucking everywhere, to fucking enhance anything, and still make fucking sense.

Fuckers.

POOP – Say No to the ‘P’!

Poop!And on the subject of linguistic idiosyncrasies…

Where did the word POOP come from? Who first used it? How did it slide into our language – it wasn’t there when I was a cub. How did there come to be poop games, poop songs, poop machines, Justin Bieber eating his own poop? Did it come from dog-walkers and their poop-scoops? Did Justin invent it himself? What?

A poop is a DECK, for Gods sakes, a deck on a ship. It’s not the ship’s latrine, unless you’re sticking your ass over the side. I’ve stood on the Poop deck of the Golden Hinde and I’m pretty sure I would have noticed. Pooped means fatigued. The Poop is a constellation. Poop is onomatopoeic – Gordon the Big Engine says ‘Poop, poop, poop!’ when he laughs at the smaller engines’ misfortunes. When you go for a pee, you don’t go for a PEEP, do you? Then why the hell has the word POO suddenly grown an additional and entirely unnecessary consonant?

Enough! Enough with the pooping!

Every time you use that extra letter, a bathroom fairy loses its wings. And the poor thing could land anywhere.

Please, think of the fairies. Say no to the ‘P’.