Friday, 25 May 2018

Gamebook Friday: Stormslayer, Martin McKenna, and Spellbreaker

A had a surprise on Facebook on Wednesday when I was tagged on Facebook, on a post showing a series of stills from Channel 4's 24 Hours in A&E. Why had I been tagged? Because the photos showing a man in the waiting room playing a Fighting Fantasy gamebook to help pass the time, and the gamebook in question was Stormslayer*.

Was this you? If it was drop me a line!

Talking of my Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, of the seven I have written, one was illustrated by Stephen Player (Stormslayer), one was illustrated by Alan Langford (Spellbreaker), two were illustrated by Tony Hough (Knights of Doom and Bloodbones), and three were illustrated by Martin McKenna (Curse of the Mummy, Howl of the Werewolf, and Night of the Necromancer).

Martin has recently listed a number of his Fighting Fantasy illustrations on ArtPal, including the covers he produced for the Wizard Books' edition of Bloodbones and Spellbreaker. You can marvel at his artistry here and order prints of his illustrations yourself.

While we're on the subject of Spellbreaker, next month marks 25 years since its publication. To commemorate the occasion I will be running a prize draw at the UK Games Expo next weekend. If you buy a book from me over the course of the three days, you will be entered into the prize draw for a chance to win a signed, limited hardback collector's edition of my latest gamebook, NEVERLAND - Here Be Monsters!

* Penned by Yours Truly, in case you didn't already know.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Steampunk Thursday: Reckless Engineering

I regularly get asked by fans of the Pax Britannia steampunk series when I will write a new Ulysses Quicksilver story. Well, if that applies to you, you will be pleased to know that I have a new one coming out this summer from Newcon Press, as part of the Steampunk International anthology, which combines steampunk stories from three different countries released by three different publishers in three different languages.

My contribution is entitled Reckless Engineering, and is the first story to move the Pax Britannia timeline forward properly since 2012's Time's Arrow.

Following a break-in at the top secret Whitehall facility known as 'Think Tank', agent of the crown Ulysses Quicksilver and his trusty manservant Nimrod set off in pursuit of the perpetrator. It is a chase that will take them from the railway sheds of London to the dockyards of Bristol, and an encounter with a long-dead engineering genius.

Whether you've been following the adventures of Ulysses Quicksilver since the publication of Unnatural History in 2007 or not, I thought it might be helpful if I published the correct reading order for the series to date. So remember, this the chronological order in which the stories take place, not the order in which they were written.

1) Conqueror Worm - November 1797 - published in Evolution Expects
2) Unnatural History - April-June 1997 - first published in 2007
3) Leviathan Rising - July-August 1997 - first published in 2008
4) Fruiting Bodies* - September 1997 - published in El Sombra (2007)
5) Vanishing Point* - October 1997 - published in Leviathan Rising
6) Human Nature - November 1997 - first published in 2008
7) Christmas Past - December 1997 - published in Human Nature
8) Evolution Expects - January-February 1998 - first published in 2009
9) Blood Royal - March-April 1998 - first published in 2010
10) White Rabbit* - May 1998 - first published in 2007
11) Proteus Unbound - May 1998 - published in Dark Side
12) Worthless Remains - June 1998 - published in Clockwork Cairo (2017)
13) Dark Side - June 1998 - first published in 2010
14) Anno Frankenstein - September 1943 - first published in 2011
15) Time's Arrow - May 1998 (again) - first published in 2012
16) Tempus Fugit - June 1998 (again) - published in Abaddon X (2015)
17) Reckless Engineering - July 1998 - published in Steampunk International (July 2018)

Stories marked with an asterisk * are also available as part of The Ulysses Quicksilver Short Story Collection eBook. The first three Ulysses Quicksilver novels, and associated short stories and novellas, have been collected together as The Ulysses Quicksilver Omnibus Vol.1, while the fourth, fifth and sixth (and associated short stories and novellas) are now available as The Ulysses Quicksilver Omnibus Vol.2.

You can even pick up the eBook of Ulysses Quicksilver's first adventure Unnatural History for free here! Just remember, "Evolution Expects!"

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

International Sherlock Holmes Day

Today is International Sherlock Holmes Day, which is celebrated on 22nd May each year, because that was the date of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's birthday.

Despite being a big influence on many things I have written, most notably the Pax Britannia series, I have only actually had one Sherlock Holmes story published, and that was last year in the anthology Further Associates of Sherlock Holmes, edited by George Mann and published by Titan Books.

If you would like to find out what happens in Sherlock Holmes and the Beast of Bodmin, a story that is narrated by Sir Henry Baskerville, you can order your copy of the anthology here.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Steampunk International

Available to pre-order now is Steampunk International, an anthology of brand-new steampunk stories with a difference.

Steampunk International is published in the UK by Newcon Press and showcases the very best steampunk stories from three different countries released by three different publishers in three different languages.

The UK contributors are George Mann, who has penned a new Newbury and Hobbes tale, Derry O’Dowd, and Yours Truly, with a new Pax Britannia story.

The three contributors from Finland are Magdalena Hai, winner of the Atorox Award and the Finnish Literary Export Prize, multiple award-winning Anne Leinonen, and J.S. Meresmaa, whose work has been shortlisted for the Anni Polva, Kuvastaja, and Atorox Awards.

There are also three contributors from Portugal - Anton Stark, Diana Pinguicha, and Pedro Cipriano, winner of Fórum Fantástico's Choice of the Year Award.

I was delighted when publisher and editor Ian Whates approached me last July about writing a tale to the anthology and saw an opportunity to move the Pax Britannia timeline on again, for the first time since the publication of the eighth Ulysses Quicksilver novel Time's Arrow in 2012.

The anthology actually launches at this year's Eurocon, but you can pre-order your copy of Steampunk International by following this link. And check back here on Thursday for the lowdown on my story Reckless Engineering.

Thought for the Day

"Why is it that when one man builds a wall, the next man immediately needs to know what's on the other side?"
~ George R. R. Martin

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Tie-in Tuesday: Dinosaur Day

According to Twitter, today is Dinosaur Day. My working days are filled with dinosaurs at the moment, as I'm nearing the end of writing the first draft of NEVERLAND - Here Be Monsters!

But of course it's not the first book I've written that features the terrible lizards. There's Terrible Lizards for one. There are also dinosaurs in the Fighting Fantasy gamebook Bloodbones, and the Pax Britannia novels Unnatural History and Leviathan Rising.

Like many 5 and 6 year-olds, I was obsessed by dinosaurs. I would spend hours tracing the dinosaurs in the colouring book I had, and I loved films like The Land That Time Forgot, Valley of the Gwangi, and One Million Years BC, shown on TV during the afternoon at weekends. When I was a little older, by father and I would make Airfix kits of dinosaurs together, and I have very fond memories of travelling up to London on the train with him, specifically to visit The Natural History Museum and its dinosaur collection. I even remember an English lesson, early on in Secondary School, in which we studied an extract from Ray Bradbury's A Sound of Thunder, focusing on the arrival of a T-Rex.

All of this clearly had an impact on my growing up, and I still have a passion and fascination for prehistoric life today. Last year family Green visited New York and I dragged everyone to the American Museum of Natural History, just so that I could see the dinosaur exhibits, which did not disappoint! And because it had an impact on me growing up, it has also impacted upon my writing.

But I have never explored dinosaur life in so much detail as I have in NEVERLAND - Here Be Monsters! For a start, the book includes over 30 different dinosaurs, marine reptiles, flying reptiles and other prehistoric creatures. But one of the fun things about writing the book has been coming up with new names for dinosaurs, because most of the characters in the story wouldn't have known what the nascent fossil hunters had called these primeval beasts.

I'm keen for the book to be finished and out there in readers' hands for various reasons, but one of them is to see if people can work out which dinosaur is which. Maybe I'll reveal the answers next Dinosaur Day.