Ecko, Deepdreaming



These are AMAZING. They’re so gloriously fucked up – and equally so perfectly appropriate to the core theme of the books – I just don’t have words. Only: how badly I’d love a special/limited edition of Rising with this cover!

This morning’s Indy says, “The [deepdream] software works by turning the image recognising computers on themselves. By telling the systems to over-interpret images, they would pick out otherwise meaningless things and exaggerate them — turning clouds into bizarre llamas, for instance.”

Endgame in Deepdream

Endgame in Deepdream

The software is now available on Github so you can put your own images through it and see just how wonderfully, beautifully messed up they really are.

And, of course, it’s Ecko all over.

It could even have been written for him…

Alternative Cover Art for Ecko Rising - and seriously fucked up

Alternative Cover Art for Ecko Rising – and seriously fucked up

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!



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.


On Finishing Ecko

The EndOnce upon a time, there was a pad of paper and an ink pen. There was half a paragraph describing the Banned. It was the winter of 90/91, and I was dating a biker – I guess somethings are inevitable.

Through my twenties, the project sprawled to some 600,000 words – three and a bit books – and ran dry just short of the Ubiquitous Final War. I stopped in the middle of a sentence, and never went back to it.

I’ve often wondered what I was doing – or where that sentence would have ended.

Stopping writing – being unable to write – is a deeply personal thing. Whatever your artistic outlet, quitting, admitting failure, is a tragedy. And you miss it! I missed the catharsis and the creativity and the characters and the places it was going to go and to take me… Eight years of lacking the confidence to imagine is a dark thing indeed.

I’m sure you know the rest. Returning to the Con circuit in 08, I started writing again, and Ecko was reborn, initially only for me and because I found that I could. Equally wordless to losing a dream is finding it again, all un-looked for. It’s magic in its purest form, and it feels like amazement.

So: twenty-plus years. Ecko’s a contentious and confrontational project (I didn’t realise that when I started), and hasn’t been to everyone’s tastes. But I’ve been lucky, as I haven’t had to compromise the content. It’s meant a share of very aggrieved reviews (what do you mean it uses bad language and crosses genres?!) but hey, them’s the brakes. I never thought even one person outside my social circle would read it, never mind enjoy it, and that’s been more than enough.

Anyway, standing at the closure of dream is weird feeling. I cried when I wrote the last sentence (upset the cat), because the journey’s been so much of my life, and because I’ll miss it, and because I never thought it would happen at all.

But honestly? Though it’ll leave a hole, moving on is probably long overdue!

The AudioMo Challenge

AudioMoNext month, I’ll be taking part in the AudioMo challenge, posting a short recording from AudioBoo every day through July.

This may well include sneaky excerpts from forthcoming Ecko novels, novels I happen to be reading, random commentary on cub antics, cycling (though I promise to keep both hands on the handlebars), and/or wacky shenanigans happening at Forbidden Planet.

I can promise it won’t include quotes from the FP Customer Services answering machine. You can find those anytime you like.

Recordings will be posted on Twitter and tagged #AudioMo. And that’s me joining the shooting-your-mouth-off fun!

On Publicity, Ego and THE FEAR

IMG_1024Publicity, I’m finding out, is a funny beast.

Despite publicising a major Geek Cred brand, being on the other end of the equation – being the brand itself, if you like – is a very odd sensation. It feels slightly nebulous, your-life-in-their-hands. And sometimes things you write, or you’ve been asked to write, don’t show up quite how you expected them to.

I’ll explain a bit more below, but first: yes, Ecko really is on MTV (and nooooo that’s not surreal at all!). Titan Books have done an absolutely storming job, and the links below have generated very interesting feedback and conversation: –

Flavorwire – Ten of the Greatest Debut Sci Fi and Fantasy Novels
Huffington Post – Seven Best Genre-Bending Novels (and Firefly) 
Criminal Element – Extract and Competition
SF Signal – Interview
Chuck Wendig’s Terribleminds – Interview
MTV Geek – Extract 
Dread Central – Interview 
Qwillery – Interview 
Qwillery – Book Cover Smackdown
Mind of the Geek – YouTube trailer 
MSN Entertainment – Prologue – Excerpt 
Impedimentia – Interview 
Kirkus reviews – June Highlights

From small beginnings (in the bathroom, as I remember, in a little house in Norwich) it seems Ecko is really being run up the flagpole. And that’s equal parts wondrous and scary.

But (briefly) about the publicity thing. On a couple of the links above, the way the info’s been presented looks I’ve touted myself as one of my own ‘best of’ picks – and that really wasn’t the idea. Ecko running up publicity flagpoles in a very good thing, but to run him up there myself would make my ego the size of a small city…

…and that just doesn’t happen.

Seriously, I mean it. Authors do self-doubt BIG time. We all do – we agonise terribly about our own work, about all of its faffings and failings and shortcomings, about how it’s not as good as anything that’s come out before, or afterwards, or ever… Gareth Powell calls it THE FEAR and it’s part of the game. Immersed in our own insecurities, we need other people to give us objectivity. It’s why we have editors, and copy-editors, and proof-readers, and patient and honest friends. They’re people we trust to whack us round the head if necessary.

And it’s why we need publicists – because selling a brand needs objectivity too. That person, that team, is there, not because you believe you’re one of your own ‘Top 10’…

…but because you know you’re not.

And if we’re lucky, they do a damn good job of it :)

Ecko US Cover Art


Ecko Rising US Cover Art

Ecko US Cover Art

US proofs of Ecko Rising just landed on my desk. These moments make everything worth it – bring me out in chills because I still can’t quite wrap my head round the fact that they’re real. Then the book is in my hands, new quotes and new accolades, and I wonder if I could pinch myself and wake up.

Ecko might reckon he’s King of Cynics… but I love my goosebumps and I hope they never fail me.

Financial Times SF/F Books of the Year

So this morning, ECKO RISING is named as one of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of the Year by the FT – that’s one hell of an accolade.

Also listed are Adam Christopher’s EMPIRE STATE, Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312, Tim Powers’ HIDE ME AMONG THE GRAVES and JUGGERNAUT by Adam Baker.

Link is here – though you’ll have to scroll down.

Little stunned to be in such lofty company. Feel I should be standing on tiptoes or something. Um. Maybe high heels? o_O


(Pic stolen shamelessly from Adam’s Twitter Feed – I’ve been at work all day!)