Self-Review 9: Geographicide

Geographicide smallGeographicide

The world’s greatest assassin was hired to kill a country. His clients are unhappy with the results.
A 2,000 word short story.

 

 

 

 

This basically espouses my view of the modern world wherein countries are losing political influence when compared to other entities, commercial and otherwise. It’s a theme I’ve also used in Allegiances and Glyphpunk (and which I touched on briefly in today’s post on the BestsellerBound Recommends blog).

One of the main areas of relations among nations is commercial in nature, so in an increasingly internationalised world commercial concerns can frequently supersede all others, resulting in commercial entities – especially multinational ones – becoming in some ways more powerful than governments, and certainly able to influence politicians. Add to that the increasing ease of global communications allowing people to be part of communities based on shared interests and ideas rather than their geographic location, and you have a gradual degradation of national identity. Which may not be an entirely bad thing (possibly a subject for another post), unless corporate interests force themselves into the role.

 

There was more backstory, but I didn’t want to stray too far into that. It’s basically one character telling a story of what he’s done, and extending that felt like it’d be getting away from the core story.

I briefly considered expanding this into a novel showing how he would actually go about killing the country (and it seems some reviewers would have preferred an expanded story). But that would take a lot of research to get right, and didn’t really appeal to me enough to sustain that amount of work to a reasonable degree. And since it’s mainly an abstract idea, giving it concrete form makes it too easy to get one little thing wrong and lose focus on the point arguing about the detail.

I think the abstraction form its shortness is useful anyway, since looking at ideas benefits from some distance. Exploring them through the prism of fantasy or science fiction allows you to remove them from the details of how we know them to be in the real world, so you can examine the idea in a cleaner way. If you are using a vaguely real world setting like Geographicide, then abstraction (hopefully) allows you to have the familiarity that offers a shorthand without the danger of the details dragging the story down.

Glyphpunk

My new novel, Glyphpunk is out today.

Glyphpunk small

The theft of valuable glyphing metal increases tension between the commercial interests who control most of the kingdoms of the Scarred Sea. Thjorn, the glyphpunk responsible for the theft, will ensure that’s only the start of their troubles.

 

 

 

 

It’s available to buy or sample the first half of the novel for free at Smashwords.

It’s also available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, where it’ll also be available in print in a few days.

A Very British Blog Tour 2013!

I’ve been tagged with one of these chain-blog thingies by a fellow British writer, Maria Savva (not to be trusted, this is the second of these she’s lobbed my way – although you should try her books). Here’s a link to her blog where you can read her answers, and find the list of her other victims:

http://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/3717273-a-very-british-blog-tour-2013

The idea behind the tour is to introduce readers to British writers.

jack

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are my answers:

 

Q. Where were you born and where do you live at the moment?

A. South Wales & South Wales. That’s as much detail as you need. Move along.

 

Q. Have you always lived and worked in Britain or are you based elsewhere at the moment?

A. I have always lived in Britain, but I did work abroad in England for six years. (I’m Welsh. England is a foreign country. Didn’t used to be, of course. But we invited them across for the weekend, and over a millennia later they’ve taken over the half the house. The English, eh. Bloody immigrants.)

 

Q. Which is your favourite part of Britain?

A. Wales (for more detail, see the previous answer).

 

Q. Have you ‘highlighted’ or ‘showcased’ any particular part of Britain in your books? For example, a town or city; a county, a monument or some well-known place or event?

A. No. Most of my stuff is fantasy, and even those set in the real world (or a close approximation) the places are often made up or not identified. The only one set somewhere I (kind of) know is Allegiances. It’s based in Athens, Greece, although it’s been going on a couple of decades since I was there for a six week work exchange thingy from college. The internet is useful for nudging the memory and looking at far away places.

I don’t know that I have a particular desire to set any stories in local places I’m familiar with, but I’ve probably used a few with the names filed off in different settings.

 

Q. There is an illusion – or myth if you wish – about British people that I would like you to discuss. Many see the ‘Brits’ as ‘stiff upper lip’. Is that correct?

A. It’s probably correct for a certain class of the English during a certain period. I think that time’s probably over by now, although there’s plenty of popular fiction (some quite old) which identifies this as a primary trait of Britishness. I certainly don’t know many people I’d describe in this way.

 

Q. Do any of the characters in your books carry the ‘stiff upper lip’? Or are they all ‘British Bulldog’ and unique in their own way?

A. I’ve probably used elements of both, but I don’t really think of it in those terms. And I haven’t written many British characters anyway.

 

Q. Tell us about one of your recent books

A. The Sin of Hope is my attempt at a pulp detective story, the kind of first person narrative wise guy I think of when I think of them. Not that a lot of them actually had the feel I had in mind, and it’s possibly ended up nothing like them, but I’m happy with the result.

The Sin of Hope smallIt’s set in modern times, in an unnamed US city, has fights, gangsters, beautiful women, and as much cracking wise as I could justifiably shove in.

Of course, being a British writer, writing a first person narrative with an American character runs the risk of sounding wrong. So I hired an American editor, Susan Helene Gottfried at West of Mars (http://westofmars.com/susans-editing-services/), to make sure it sounds authentic. I can highly recommend her to anyone in search of a good editor.

 

Q. What are you currently working on?

A. The formatting and tidying up of my next novel, Glyphpunk, which will probably be out in the next few days.

When that’s done I’ll start revisions of the third short story of the Tales of the Thief-City series, Cage of Thoughts. Hopefully that’ll be ready in the next couple of months.

And I’m in between revisions of Shadows of the Heavens, a series of 15 novellettes which form a larger story. That’ll hopefully be done later in the year. I was originally thinking of releasing them one a month, but since I’m doing the revisions together as one whole story, I may release them on a weekly basis.

 

Q. How do you spend your leisure time?

A. Leisure time? I think I recall the concept. When not writing or doing other work I generally read (fiction [fantasy science fiction, and thrillers] and comics). Being a writer, this can be classed as market research, so is technically work.

 

Q. Do you write for a local audience or a global audience?

A. I am my target audience. If I don’t enjoy it then it’s unlikely anyone else will. Ideally I’d like a global audience (because there’re more of them) and my work is available internationally, but I don’t actually write with a target audience in mind. I’m not entirely sure I’d know how to write for a particular audience.

 

Q. Can you provide links to your work?

A. They can be found in all formats at Smashwords, on Amazon.com (and it’s subsidiaries), and you can find a full list of where they’re available on my website.

 

I’ve no intention of inflicting this on anyone else (partly due to not knowing many other British writers), but if anyone actually wants to do it then let me know and I’ll add a link.

Self-Review 8: Spikebreaker

Spikebreaker smallSpikebreaker

Telepaths are heavily regulated, virtual third class citizens, second class if working for the Specialist Psychic Intervention unit, dealing with psychic crimes, and handling Spikes, newly emerged telepaths endangering all around them.

Lydia is a SPI telepath. Jack is her Spikebreaker, a mentally compatible police officer. Together they fight, well, mainly each other.

An 11,000 word novelette.

This was intended to be done in the style of a movie (although it’s probably too short for an actual movie). I wanted it to set a fast pace and keep to it, so it maybe doesn’t slow down to explain things as much as some might like.

The main flaw I see in it is that only the central two characters had any real work done on them, as I didn’t want to waste time on others. As a result, many of the others feel a bit cardboardy to me. Still I feel I caught the style I was aiming for, and I’m relatively happy with it.

It’s also my most downloaded (over 15,000, which isn’t really that much), mainly due to being the first one I got free on Amazon by price matching. It was when the price matching was just coming in so just under half its total downloads were during the first week it was free there. Since the number of free eBooks has proliferated the number of free downloads has plummeted, and Amazon don’t seem too interested in price matching free stuff at the moment, anyway.

One of the problems highlighted by a few reviews was that I used square brackets to enclose thoughts coming at Jack – the POV character – and his thoughts back to them were in italics. These were also interspersed with speaking (usually to a separate character), and some people found it confusing. There’s little I can (or want to) do about the telepathic and physical conversations interacting, since I was going for a kind of fast talking feel, but I changed all thoughts to italics and just added more dialogue attribution. I hope it’s clearer to follow now, but don’t think I have the distance to tell.

Self-Review 7: Blade Sworn

Blade Sworn smallBlade Sworn

With nations in chaos, or on the brink of war, hints an ancient evil may be loose are ignored. Left to deal with the danger are a princess determined to evade assassins and save her father; a scribe who learned something he shouldn’t; maybe the last survivor of the order who bound the ancient evil; an old knight indifferent to all but his duty; and a group of mercenaries, not all of whom care.

 

 

This feels a bit too standard fantasy for my tastes now. A bit more grounded than it might have been. Originally it was going to be about a group being hunted by a group of goblin-types in the middle of a more traditional war against this great evil force, with allegiances shifting and stuff so that by the middle the goblins will become the good guys (it was fairly vague at that point). Given the history of the setting non-human races didn’t seem to fit, and they eventually turned into the mercenaries.

I suppose overall I’m happy with how it turned out, although the outstanding questions are a bit irritating (how exactly the Broken got past the wall [it wasn’t caves], and who exactly arranged the release of *). I’d intended a series of relatively stand alone novels (and will hopefully get to it sometime) but since I’m still trying to find something that’ll actually sell enough to make a living at this it’s more efficient to try new things than a sequel for something which hasn’t got attention (this is more from when I was trying traditional publishing though, and with independent eBooks the opposite might be true, as quite a few successful authors have series when they get successful).

One irritating bit is the similarity of the Wall to the one in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. I only started reading that after I was a good half-dozen revisions into Blade Sworn so I couldn’t really extract it (and Lord of the Rings had a big wall too so it’s hardly the first). But it could be seen as derivative by some.

One thing that does still niggle at me is Rys’ first chapter. It’s the only chapter after the first with a POV character that hasn’t already appeared earlier. It’s a minor thing, but one I couldn’t really finesse in any elegant way.

 

[SPOILERS]

The demons in this are faeries who tried to return to their home after the great disaster. They’d come to this world wearing host bodies, but were unable to return home once the dimensions became broken. Some of them tried forcing their way back through, resulting in their discorporated forms which became known as demons.

Did I say only some of them tried that? Yes, well I also said SPOILERS.

[END SPOILERS]