Shortlisted for a British Fantasy Award! Eeeek!

It’s taken a couple of weeks to sink in, hence the delay, but I’m thrilled to say that I’ve been shortlisted for the 2018 British Fantasy Awards in the Best Artist category!!! Yay!!!!

Can’t quite believe it but seeing my name listed as a shortlist nominee is surreal and a little overwhelming, but in a good way! 馃檪 I’ve been nominated in the Best Artist category for the two hand drawn pen & ink maps I created for HarperCollins last year, for Anna Smith-Spark’s brilliant ‘The Court of Broken Knives’ and Anna Stephen’s wonderful ‘Godblind’!

It’s been a lovely surprise especially given that this has been a tough year for me personally, health problems, one of my beloved wolfies (Tolly) has been very unwell, massive financial worries (colossal vet bills!) and the latest gut punch – my wonderful Godmother (who I’ve known and loved my whole life and has been there for us through some pretty traumatic times) is desperately ill with ovarian cancer. It fact she’s having her operation tomorrow to try and cut all the cancer out. We’re all very worried and fighting back tears at the moment, so having something lovely like this happen聽has definitely been a much needed ray of sunshine in amongst a sea of crap.

I won’t find out if I’ve won until the swanky awards ceremony (October 21st). So in a mad dash, despite the fact that I’m totally skint, I booked up the hotel and tickets for FantasyCon 2018 up at Chester聽(October 19th – 21st) and will be sitting there during the awards ceremony with fingers and toes crossed while practising my ‘I’m not really disappointed’ face when someone else wins it! 馃榾

A聽massive THANK YOU to the British Fantasy Society聽and to everyone who voted for me. Amazing to see the other artists I’m nominated with:

Best Artist
路 Ben Baldwin
路 Jeffrey Alan Love
路 Victo Ngai
路 Daniele Sera
路 Sophie E Tallis
路 Sana Takeda

I also want to shout out my other friends who have been nominated too. Firstly a massive congrats to the lovely Joanne Hall聽who has been nominated in the Best Short Story category for her story ‘Illumination’ taken from the anthology ‘The Book of Dragons’ by AJ Dalton published by my publishers, Kristell Ink聽(an聽imprint聽of聽Grimbold聽Books). Congrats to Joshua Cornah another fellow Grimmie from Kristell Ink, who has been nominated for Best Comic/Graphic Novel聽for his hilarious Grim聽& Bold cartoons. Grimbold Books themselves (worthy winner of the Best Independent Press at last year’s BFS awards) are also again nominated this year as well! Woo hoo! xxx

I also want to make a huge shout out to Anna Smith-Spark who has been nominated for Best Fantasy Novel and Best Newcomer聽for ‘The Court of Broken Knives’! Way to go Anna! 馃榾 xxx

Yay!!! So stupidly excited and very honoured and humbled by the whole thing.

To check out more of my work, pop by my website: Sophie E Tallis Illustrations or if you want to BUY any artwork, check out my new Etsy shop: Sophie’s Artisan Arts!

Thank you folks! 鉂 鉂 鉂 xxxxx

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Book Launch Extravaganza! Fight Like A Girl kicks ass…literally!

As I type this my head is still reeling from the awesome Fight Like A Girl events of yesterday. (Apologies now, the word ‘awesome’ will be overused and abused in this post!) For any of you who have been to a book launch or are even trying to organise one yourself, take note – THIS is how it should be done!

The ingredients for聽a perfect kick-ass book launch:

  1. An awesome book to launch – a brilliantly written and edited piece of fiction with a great cover, which is worth people forking out their hard-earned cash for!
  2. An awesome venue with plenty of room/space, facilities (bar, toilets, stage area for readings/events etc), places to chill, great lighting and sound and easy access.
  3. An awesome collection of writers, reading extracts from their work.
  4. An awesome panel with great Q & A’s for the audience.
  5. A mind-blowing physical display of martials arts and swordplay!
  6. Then of course, book signing from the authors and chances to ask questions.
  7. Throw in a load of lovely food and drinks (free wine and free soft drinks!), a great atmosphere and you have the recipe for the best book launch EVER!!!! 馃榾

It honestly felt more like a mini-con than a book launch!

Right, back to the day itself. Saturday 2nd April 2016, despite a slightly wet start to the morning, the sun came out and stayed out. My lovely fellow Grimbold author and friend, the uber-talented, Kate Coe, popped over to mine and after an initial hello from my barky boys (my four large white wolfies), we headed off. SAM_8682

The destination was The Hatchet Inn, in the heart of Bristol, dated 1606, a pub I later found out I have a weird personal connection to (more on that later). We聽arrived and strolled up Park Street to the Boston Tea Party to meet lovely Chris Horner and Tom Miles and the indefatigable Joanne Hall & Roz Clarke, fellow Grimboldians and amazing writers who edited the Fight Like A Girl (FLAG) anthology, contributed an awesome聽story each as well聽AND organised the whole amazing book launch event! OMG! I strongly suspect that Jo & Roz are hauled up today in their respective homes, floating in a sea of duvets and doggies, recovering…

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I have to mention the one person who should have been there but couldn’t make it (gritty police work got in the way 馃槮 ), our wonderful publisher, Sammy HK Smith, one half of Grimbold Books (Zoe Harris is our other lovely publisher) and the Creative Director of its imprint, Kristell Ink, behind the publication of Fight Like A Girl. It was such an amazing day聽and poor Sammy’s absence was felt as she would have loved the whole thing. 鉂 But huge kudos to her, her team did her proud and Kristell Ink did such an amazing job with the book. SAM_8598

After heading back to the pub to finishing setting up, to our delight we noticed that the fabulous cover, designed by the awesome Sarah Anne Langton, actually glows in the dark under a black light! Awesomeness x 10!

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I should also say that one of the main reasons the book launch was聽SUCH a huge success was that the book in question,聽Fight Like A Girl (FLAG), really is such an amazing book, it kind of sells itself! I rarely comment on other books, because frankly I’m not a reviewer and I lack the confidence to assess other people’s writing, I’d much rather leave that to others who know more than I do, but in this case, I have to make an exception. There simply aren’t enough聽accolades to describe it – an awesome anthology of kick ass fiction by some of the best female genre writers聽from around聽the country, writing about strong female characters, assassins, pilots, warriors, killers, archers, mercenaries, you name it, these women are deadly and mean business. No fluff, no touchy feeling stuff here. If you had any preconceived stereotypes about women writers writing fantasy and sci-fiction – leave them at the door, Fight Like A Girl, will blow you away! SAM_8677SAM_8676

The doors opened at 1pm and in came the people. Within minutes the whole place was absolutely packed! So many lovely people to mention…a big shout out to Gareth L Powell and his lovely wife and daughter, Fantasy Faction‘s very own Marc Aplin, Jonathan L Howard, Pete Sutton, Ian Millsted, Mark Robinson (my fellow Star Wars fan), the lovely Heather Ashley & Claire M Carter, the awesome Claire Ayres (of BrizzleLass Blog) who wrote the first awesome review of聽Fight Like A Girl聽and loved my story! (THANK YOU!). Lovely to see John Bav, Anne-Mhairi Simpson & Richard Bendall, Desiree Fischer, Jon Dowling (who always cracks me up), the lovely Emily Turner (Elegant Emily) who is a fab new intern at Grimbold, and the very dapper, Scott Lewis who is such an awesome guy and bought a copy of White Mountain too, thank you Scott! 馃榾

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I was also thrilled to finally meet the Spymaster General and Robin, AFE Smith, from聽our Alliance of Worldbuilders (AWB) group from Authonomy, who met in 2010 and are not only still great friends but have written a charity anthology together. Meeting Anna for the first time was lovely, she is SUCH a lovely person and such an amazing writer herself who has signed with Harper Voyager and whose second book, GoldenFire is out in July this year! Then it was also lovely to meet my old mate, Will Macmillan Jones, another AWBer, who had travelled all the way from deepest darkest Wales. Thanks matey! 馃榾

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Then, of course, I have to mention my fellow awesome Fight Like A Girl authors who made it to the launch, the awesomely amazing Juliet E McKenna, Danie Ware, Gaie Sebold, Joanne Hall, Roz Clarke, Dolly Garland, Fran Terminiello, Lou Morgan and KT Davies. (Nadine West was getting married at the time so couldn’t make it for obvious reasons! Congrats to her and Adam!) SAM_8603

People chatted as the food and wine flowed. Joanne & Roz did a fab introduction and this was followed by the first reading of the day, the amazing Lou Morgan reading an extract from her story, Archer 57, which was utterly brilliant! Then a break…*gulp* then it was my turn! I read a short extract from my story, Silent Running, and had to smile at the audience reaction to one of the grisly parts! 馃榾 12928120_579666122188911_2427319853639567376_n[1]

After my reading聽there was a brilliant panel聽moderated by the lovely Cheryl Myfanwy Morgan, who like Joanne Hall, seems to know everyone in the SFF community in the southwest!

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The panel, with Joanne Hall, KT Davies, Cheryl, Gaie Sebold and Dolly Garland, were discussing the role of women in SFF fiction, both as writers and readers, the bias which female writers face from a male dominated genre and a public which isn’t always willing to look beyond the stereotype to give female SFF fiction a try and the importance of having strong female characters in fiction. The question of discoverability for female writers, a topic which Joanne Hall has blogged about extensively (please check out her awesome blog: Joanne Hall’s Blog – Hierath)

12931087_579665982188925_3061819945994639525_n[1]Then, after a break of more food, wine, chat and laughter, it was Danie Ware’s reading, from her story, Unnatural History. It was epic, awesome, breath-taking!

Finally, the part of the book launch everyone had been salivating for…Juliet E McKenna’s martials arts display and Fran Terminiello’s swordplay!

Juliet E McKenna, apart from being a very accomplished and well known SFF writer on the national and international stage and running the fabulous FantasyCon, which we at Grimbold Books had such an epic time at聽last October, also happens to be a 3rd dan black belt in Aikido! She went on to demonstrate some basic self-defence and Akido moves. Wow! SAM_8673

Then the amazing Fran Terminiello and her friend, Liz, demonstrated duelling and sword fighting techniques from the Renaissance onwards, with a range of rapiers, long swords, short swords, daggers, even scythes! OMG!!! Totally amazing stuff, all of it! 馃榾 Talk about ‘Fight Like A Girl’, these women were fighting like total bad-asses! SAM_8650

After all the excitement, we had the group book signing, where the lines were huge and we all sat and signed the FLAG books to very eager and enthusiastic readers and chatted away. We sold loads of books, in fact, almost ran out! All-in-all, it was a totally amazing day and an amazing experience! 12417894_1264280650268033_7439142051687648971_n[1]

A HUGE thank you to Sammy, Jo, Roz and everyone involved in this event and getting this book to publication. Wow! 馃榾

Finally, I found out a strange fact from my mum…we have a personal family connection to the Hatchet Inn! Yes, apparently my Great Aunt Grace, married a man called Reg Hillier, part of ‘The Hillier Brothers’, who were well known in Bristol and ran the house removals and antiques dealers and actually lived next door to the Hatchet Inn, which is now part of the inn itself! In 1967 her house was demolished and the Hatchet Inn was rebuilt that side, where her house had been! How weird is that?!!! 馃榾

Wow…what a day!

Do yourself a favour, a pick up a copy of Fight Like A Girl, for the best kick-ass SFF fiction! 馃榾

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馃榾 xxx

World Book Day – Let’s Kick Some Book Ass!

Today is World Book Day! Now usually I find myself doing something cool for World Book Day. In years gone by, when I was a teacher, we’d dress up as favourite book characters and spend the day reading cool stories and playing book related games. Then, as a author and illustrator, I found myself doing book signings in Waterstones or some lovely independent bookshops (which I would always urge you all to support – use Amazon to buy other stuff, but PLEASE buy your books locally, it’s the only way to ensure that we still have local bookshops!). More recently, as I now work in a library, we have celebrated World Book Day by having cool events and art activities all with a book theme.

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This year? Well, World Book Day has fallen on a day I don’t work and as I’m concentrating on writing new material this year rather than galloping around the West Country and Wales book signing, I’m actually spending this lovely day in a peaceful creative huddle. Candles lit, music softly playing in the background, dogs asleep (shhhhh!) and laptop on my…er…lap as I type away.

Logos[1]While I wrestle with the sequel to White Mountain, which I am determined to finish in the next few months, I have been very productive on the short story front. So, what better day to tell you all about new stories and new books coming up, than to announce it on World Book Day! 馃榾

For White Mountain fans, you have two Darkling Tales/short novellas winging their way to you VERY soon. A Friendship Forged – charting how Mr. Agyk and Gralen first met, why dragons have disappeared from the world and the first dark inklings, has just gone through it’s last round of edits (thank you Robyn!) and is looking VERY good! The second story, The Siege of Kallorm – recounts the tragic tale of Korrun of Koralan, how one fateful mistake can change your life forever and his attempts to find redemption. Can you ever atone for your sins? Sooooooo excited about these! 馃榾

For lovers of dark fairytales, there’s a wonderful anthology – Shadows Of The Oak, by Tenebris Books, on its way very soon and I’ll have a sweetly dark and twisted tale in it, ‘The Orphan and the Iron Troll’ and two illustrations.

The Orphan and the Iron Troll (borderless)

And for lovers of kick-ass fiction…wow you have a treat coming! A brilliant and prestigious group of the best female sci-fi/fantasy writers in the country all gathered together for one awesome anthology – Fight Like A Girl! The theme is all about strong empowered women, female protagonists who kick ass whether they be natural born fighters, soldiers, mercenaries, assassins, hardened warriors or ordinary women thrown into extraordinary circumstances. What makes this anthology unique, apart from the talent gathered together to create it, is that all the people involved in it are women. Female writers writing about powerful females, women editors (the brilliant Joanne Hall & Roz Clarke), and uber-cool publishing house, Grimbold Books, run by two women (the galactically awesome Sammy HK Smith & Zoe Harris)!

Fight-Like-A-Girl-V2-400ppi[1]Having said all that, the book聽is designed to聽appeal to both genders.聽It’s choc full of battles, violence, dark humour聽and cool kick-ass action! The grand launch聽is on Saturday 2nd April at the Hatchet Inn in Bristol where there will be a panel, readings and even some swordplay! Fighting and buffet food too – grab your tickets now!* 馃榾

I must confess I’m rather honoured and more than a little humbled聽to be included in this聽collection amongst such聽prestigious writers with聽my own gritty sci-fi tale –聽‘Silent Running’, nestled amongst a host of other great聽stories from luminaries like Juliet McKenna, Julia Knight, KT Davies, Kim Lakin-Smith, Gaie Sebold, Danie Ware, Dolly Garland, Lou Morgan, KR Green, Joanne Hall, Roz Clarke, Fran Terminiello, Nadine West聽and Kelda Crich!

It’s true that there are a lot of exciting bookish things happening this year, but being a part of this anthology is definitely one them!

*This book launch event has been kindly funded by the BristolCon Foundation
For more information: http://www.bristolcon.org/?page_id=2654
For tickets – https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/fight-like-a-girl-flag-launch-event-tickets-20658444965

Wherever you are and whatever you’re reading – Happy World Book Day!!!! 馃榾 xxxx

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hyperurl.co/GrimboldBooks聽

A Year of Wonder…!

Today, is a special day – not聽just the 1st of a new month (pinch punch sort of thing),聽and the first day of the festive season (I LOVE Christmas and yes, I already have my trees up and decorated and excitedly switched the lights on this morning before work :D!) … BUT today marks the 1 year anniversary of my novel, WHITE MOUNTAIN, being published! YAY!!!!!! 馃榾9781909845978[1]

A year ago today, my聽epic fantasy聽was born or should I say re-born in all its glory by a fantastic publisher, Grimbold Books,聽who prizes quality above anything else and who truly GOT IT!

I owe them so many thanks, not least for producing a book of tremendous quality from the awesome cover to the calligraphy inside, from the production values to the formatting of text and my illustrations (a fiddly thing at the best of times…when was the last time you read an illustrated novel?), (thank you to Alex Bardy the God of Typesetting!). Everything was done with care and more than a pinch of love and I genuinely think it shows.聽Grimbold Books聽and Kristell Ink聽also restored my very shaken faith in the integrity and honesty of people after my dreadful first publisher experience. To say Grimbold are the polar opposite to the cretins I first聽signed with, would be an understatement of gargantuan proportions! So, a massive thank you to Sammy HK Smith and Zoe Harris for taking a chance on me and everyone at Team Grimbold…I love you guys! 馃榾 xxx White Mountain full book jacket

So, on this聽happy book anniversary it seems fitting to take a breath and look back at the wondrous whirlwind year its been and share a few of the highlights!

1st Dec 2014 – My reaction was as always, understated and subtle… 馃榾 SAM_5228

To my delight, not only did White Mountain gain lots of new readers and admirers but many fans of the first flawed book bought the second improved version too, just to read how聽the story聽should have been told. Thank you to all my fans, old and new! I really appreciate your support! 鉂 xxx 10407894_10153042995986950_697215546084611716_n[1]

After my first ever Book Fair at the Welsh ICE Book Fair on 29th Nov, I followed that up by my first ever reading in Bristol at the ‘Fairies at the bottom of the garden’ event Sat 13th Dec. I was VERY nervous, but it was great fun. 馃榾 10614253_846486532082170_6044863703050848758_n[1]

After another successful book signing at the lovely Books & Pontyclun bookshop on December 20th where I formed a great friendship with Book Lady extraordinaire聽and White Mountain mega-fan, Emily Hannah Rogers now Mrs Emily Hannah King! (She’s on her honeymoon trip around the world…I was hoping to sneak inside her suitcase when I heard she was going to my beloved New Zealand!). SAM_5401

The new year聽brought yet more wonderful signings and ‘booky’ events. Signing at the fab Books On The Hill Bookshop in Clevedon in February with Alistair Sims and Chloe, lol, and being photographed for the Somerset Times Newspaper…gulp! My signing at Books On The Hill

In March, my second Book Fair and聽more signings this time at prestigious Chepstow Bookshop in the shoes of my聽hero David Attenborough! Thank you to Matt and to my lovely mate Will who popped along to say “Hello!”

April, saw me attending my very first Literary Festival as an author and illustrator for the inaugural Hawkesbury-Upton Lit Fest organised by self-published author extraordinaire, Debbie Young, to celebrate World Book Night. 51LK1eQJXNL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_[1]My poetry readings (my first ever) went down a storm and my White Mountain reading got people so hooked they grabbed another few sales! Yay! I also meet famous author, Katie Fforde, who posed for a photo op! 馃榾 SAM_6754

The month of May was busy busy busy, juggling illustration commissions and lots of events, the highlights being another signing at lovely Octavia’s Bookshop in Cirencester and my third public book reading as part of BristolCon Fringe alongside fellow fantasy author, Ben Galley. May also saw me going see one of my favourite authors, Kazuo Ishiguro, at聽the Hay Festival – where he signed two books for me and chatted about the prejudice the fantasy genre faces from the literarti, what an awesome experience! SAM_6855 (2)

In June, White Mountain continued to soar in the Amazon charts and gained yet more wonderful聽REVIEWS – THANK YOU! This little blog seemed to explode, with a couple of days gaining over 600 visitors each day! Yet more illustrations and yes, lots of writing, including a dark fairy-tale short story, ‘The Orphan and The Iron Troll’The Orphan and the Iron Trollto be published in upcoming dark anthology, Shadows Of The Oak and a gritty sci-fi space opera short story, ‘Silent Running’ for the upcoming awesome Fight Like A Girl anthology alongside big fantasy hitters like Juliet E McKenna, Danie Ware, Gaie Sebold, K.T. Davies, Kim Lakin-Smith, Roz Clarke and Joanne Hall among others! Wow! Very honoured and rather humbled to be in such company. (gulp) Fight-Like-A-Girl-V2-400ppi[1]

July was hot and awesome in equal measure…but the highlight of highlights had to be the honour of being invited as an author and illustrator to take part in the prestigious Cirencester Literary Festival, running my own illustration workshop as one of the main events! The place, Bingham Gallery in Cirencester,聽was absolutely PACKED! The event was a tremendous success and went brilliantly, and I even managed to control my nerves! July also saw me starting my Distant Worlds author interview series on this blog, which has been such fun and has had such a tremendous response. 馃榾 CJi9mo3WEAAGHFn[1] (2)11059440_1736544409906170_5015057545228280997_n[1]11822572_1736544419906169_8415676657590741700_n[1]11406151_1717954358431842_1815668094057261589_o1[1]

September, apart from my birthday (gulp), saw the eventual release of the Alliance of Worldbuilders (AWB) first anthology, A World Of Their Own, the fruition of four years hard work. The anthology is聽dedicated to my dear friend and fellow AWB member, Lindsey J Parsons who died so suddenly in January 2014, with ALL profits from the book going to charity – so it makes the perfect Christmas present. 10628434_901588523202885_688426025216875644_n[1]

I still miss聽Linds so much, especially late at night when my insomnia kicks in and I need to talk to someone and bounce ideas of…or chat stupidly like we often did until 3am! 馃槮

Anyway, after the anthology publication the rest of the聽month was dominated by the insanely cool BristolCon run by Joanne Hall. It took place聽at the Doubletree Hilton Hotel in Bristol, where I was not only attending as an author on my first ever panel (alongside Jasper Fforde) but was also CHAIRING a panel on the apt subject of Libraries. I also got to finally meet Emma Newman which was very cool as was seeing my mate, Joanne Hall, have聽her awesome book launch! SAM_7710

October was a mad blur of more book fairs and signings but the highlight was an epically AWESOME 5 days up in Nottingham with my fellow Grimbold band of brothers and sisters for FantasyCon!!!! WOW!!! Where to start? Such cool panels, talks, lots of fun events, me singing Blondie and Adele at my first ever Karaoke…and yes, I didn’t completely embarrass myself! Meeting Brandon Sanderson, hanging out with my new cool friends, eating copious amounts of pizza, cake and burgers (diet was on hiatus), Steven Poore (fellow Grimbold cat) having his awesome book launch at the Con, SAM_8039playing Cards Against Humanity and my 1981 board-game, Dark Tower and cheering on the wonderful Adele Wearing of Fox Spirit Books as they won Best Independent Press at the British Fantasy Awards. SAM_8064Highlights, have to be my decision to make a visual record of the Con by sketching people. Amongst some decidedly dodgy drawings (sorry Jo, I will draw you again honey and do a better job!), I got to eventually meet the very cool Jen Williams who I’d missed at BristolCon. Not only did Jen and Brandon sign the sketches I did of them, Jen very kindly posed for a piccie with it too! SO COOL!!! 馃榾 SAM_7981Had SUCH an amazing time! SAM_8100SAM_7917

Then, suddenly it was November and my fellow cool Grimbold cat and talented writer, Kate Coe (who I shared a hotel room with and who had to put up with my snoring!), had encouraged me to do something I have been avoiding since 1999…National Novel Writing Month – NaNoWrMo (Nano)! NaNo-2015-Winner-Badge-Large-Square[1]

Knowing what a slow sod I am when it comes to writing, yes hopefully I write quality stuff, but do I need to be so goddamn slow? – well, knowing that, how could I of all people possibly hope to write a massive 50,000 words in just one month. Geared up by Kate’s enthusiasm that聽I could in fact do it…I plunged into it head long! I also took part in a little sword fighting play at Kate’s place for one of the Nano Write-In’s with Adrian Faulkner, a master swordsman and very cool fantasy writer. 12196097_10153633033412254_1672540370840878677_n[1]SAM_7910

So, November was spent ignoring emails, ignoring the TV, Facebook, friends and relatives and just writing, writing, writing…and…on Sunday 29th November, a whole day early for my first ever Nano…I achieved my impossible goal, I reached 50,143 words of my new dark fantasy, RAVENWING. Ravenwing

That was two days ago, and I’m still reeling from it. For me, this Nano challenge was also a deeply personal and important one. I wasn’t just challenging myself to write a huge amount of words in a short time, I was challenging my illness and saying YES, I CAN DO THIS! Nano Winner 2015 Certificate

As many of my friends know, I was struck down by a nasty illness a couple of years ago and that has badly impacted on my writing, making me slower again but also making the sheer effort and mental strain of concentrating for the longer periods needed to write, very very difficult indeed. This has meant that the sequel to my beloved, White Mountain, has been very slow in the making (a big thank you again to my VERY patient publishers!). So…for me, Nano was also an opportunity to show myself that I can do it, to kickstart my White Mountain sequel, and that’s what I intend to do!

So…to start as I mean to continue, here is an exclusive for all my White Mountain fans…

The sequel, DARKLING RISE,聽is coming (promise), but to tide you all over…there will be two brand聽NEW White Mountain short stories published next year!!!!

A Friendship Forged – is a wonderful back story of how Mr. Agyk and Gralen first meet with some awesome聽fight sequences and more than a few hints about Book 2 and tie-in events from White Mountain.

The Siege of Kallorm – is the back聽story of Korrun, why he is聽such an聽angst character. It charts his fateful fall from grace, from being a hero figure, the Captain of the Kallorm City Guard to becoming a vilified, hated figure after he makes the worst of mistakes. Can you ever atone for your sins? The Siege of Kallorm sketch

Both new stories are coming soon…watch this space!

***

So…there you go, a year of madness, mayhem, wonderful weirdness, lots of ‘firsts’, and a real personal turning point.

I wonder…what on earth will the next year bring?!

See you all there, for yet more fun…roll on 2016! 馃榾 xxxxx

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馃榾 鉂 xxxxx

Distant Worlds – Welcomes Joanne Hall!

This is a very special post and the tenth聽outing聽of聽a new blog series, as I dabble my toes into the mysterious waters聽of author interviews!

Having watched so many fantastic interviewers (Tricia Drammeh and her Authors to Watch, AFE Smith (see below), Katrina Jack and her New Authors section聽and Susan Finlay鈥檚 Meet the Author聽to name a few of the best 鈥 please check out their wonderful blogs), I鈥檝e always been a little reluctant to throw my hat into the ring鈥ut here goes!

One of my all-time favourite worldbuilding PC games, is Sid Meier鈥檚 鈥楢lpha Centauri鈥. So, in homage to that (and a shameless rip off of BBC Radio 4鈥檚 鈥楧esert Island Discs鈥 and AFE Smith鈥檚 brilliant blog series Barren Island Books), here is my own author interview series 鈥 Distant Worlds.

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To kick off the Distant Worlds strand, over the聽last few weeks I鈥檝e been focusing on fellow fantasy and sci-fi authors from ultra-cool UK publishing house, Grimbold Books and their imprints, Kristell Ink聽and Tenebris Books聽鈥 a bunch of uber-talented and whacky characters who I am also proud to call friends.

Grimbold Books聽were also doing a fabulous 鈥楽ummer Promotion鈥 from 31st July 鈥 4th August, where ALL of its wonderful titles were priced at only 99p/99c across Amazon platforms. Now, although summer is over, there聽are still great promos and bargains to be had running into Autumn, so grab yourself聽something special聽before the prices go back to normal! Awesome fiction at awesome prices!!!! hyperurl.co/GrimboldBooks聽

Right, now to our聽tenth author interview and a rather special edition this one – a聽truly multi-talented lady, terrific writer, fantasy aficionado and the founder/creator and head honcho of BristolCon…the cosmically cool鈥

Joanne Hall

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Joanne, YOU find yourself cast adrift in deep space, your colony pod鈥檚 life support is failing, your only chance of survival is a distant habitable world鈥

What 5 essentials would you choose to help you survive?

Tea bags, a towel (of course), pens and paper, sunblock and my dog (I鈥檓 allowed to take my dog, right? I鈥檓 not going off into the wilds of space without her鈥)

What 5 personal items would you salvage from your crashed ship before it explodes?

鈥 photos of family and friends, Barnaby, the teddy bear I鈥檝e had since I was five, and my laptop. I know that鈥檚 not five things. 馃檪

Would you seek life-forms for help or go it alone?

It would depend on what the life forms were 鈥 I鈥檓 currently reading Adrian Tchaikovsky鈥檚 Children of Time and the intelligent alien life forms are spiders as big as your leg. Don鈥檛 fancy meeting them much鈥 But if they weren鈥檛 too insecty / arachnid-y and didn鈥檛 want to kill me, I鈥檇 probably be ok with meeting them.

What 5 fantasy/sci-fi books would you have to keep with you and why?

鈥 Only five? Meanie! If I leave my leg behind can I take six? No? Ok, I would take The Lord of the Rings, Dune, The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, The Copper Promise by Jen Williams and The Robots of Dawn by Isaac Asimov. These are all hefty books that would be good for smacking the local wildlife into a coma (just in case), and at a pinch I could build a house out of them, and they鈥檙e all awesome. 馃檪

What 5 songs or albums could you not live without?

These lists of book and albums are subject to change without notice, right? Generation Terrorists 鈥 Manic Street Preachers (I could not conceive of living in a world where I could never listen to the Manics again), Five Leaves Left 鈥揘ick Drake, 100 Broken Windows 鈥 Idlewild, Two Suns 鈥 Bat For Lashes and Dog Man Star by Suede. I realise anyone reading this list will probably now be able to work out my age down to the nearest six months, but I don鈥檛 care about being Down With The Kids. Anyway, it鈥檚 my planet鈥 馃槈

You are all alone on a distant world with little chance of being rescued鈥o you choose water, vodka or coca-cola to drown your sorrows?

Can I have vodka and coke, please?

Joanne,聽as well as being a very talented writer yourself, you are also聽founder and chair of extraordinary fantasy convention, BristolCon (coming up next week! – Sept 26th 2015). Over the years as BristolCon has blossomed into an ever bigger event, you have had some very prestigious writers and artists attending, from Mark Lawrence (Broken Empire), legendary fantasy illustrator, Jim Burns, to Jasper Fforde who聽sat on several panels. If you could choose ANY fantasy or sci-fi writer from the past or present to attend BristolCon and share a plate of nachos with, who would it be and why?

If I could choose ANY fantasy or SF writer to attend BristolCon? Only one? I can’t choose one, thought I’d love to see Tolkien and CS Lewis on a panel together… Some of the people I would most like to see at BristolCon are the people who narrowly missed out – people who we would be falling over ourselves to ask if only we’d had the chance. So Iain M Banks, Diana Wynne Jones, Terry Pratchett… But most especially our friend Colin Harvey, who was instrumental in setting up the very first BristolCon but was taken from us suddenly in 2011. If there was any writer in the world I’d love to share a plate of nachos and a pint with one more time, it would be Colin.

You have 30 seconds (max 100 words) to tell the alien approaching you about your latest book. Remember this is more pressurised than an elevator pitch 鈥 screw up and he鈥檒l eat your brains! Go!聽

Spark, a mage-trained boy, kills his master and goes on the run in the biggest city in the world, where he is pursued by rival criminal gangs who want to take advantage of his uncontrolled powers. When his wild magic cracks the world and unleashes a horde of demons on the unsuspecting city, Spark has to turn to his pursuers for help, unleashing a conflict that could bring about the end of the world. (from Jo’s new novel, ‘Spark and Carousel’, which has it’s global launch at BristolCon next week!)

How would you choose to spend your time on this distant world?

Reading, writing, exploring with my dog and enjoying being out in nature. And trying not to get eaten by monsters!

What 5 things would you miss most about Earth?

鈥 My boyfriend (unless he could come with me), cheese on toast, shopping for books, trash TV and Twitter.

What 5 things would you NOT miss about Earth?

Bigotry, guns, David Cameron, Ricky Gervais and cucumbers.

Time-traveller questions (for Dr. Who fans): What is the one thing you wish you could turn back time and change?

Beyond the big important killing Hitler type things, you mean? I would have liked to spend more time with my grandad. He used to make up stories for me when I was little, and by the time I had books coming out he was a little too far gone to understand what was going on.

If you had the chance again to go on this deep space adventure, would you take it?

Like a shot, provided I haven鈥檛 been eaten by anything so far鈥

What 5 indie authors and books you would recommend to any carbon based lifeform 鈥 and why?

Well, obviously everyone published by Kristell Ink 鈥 that goes without saying but I鈥檓 going to say it anyway. 馃檪聽Outside the confines of KI, I鈥檇 recommend Fran Jacobs, author of The Shadow Seer, and Fox Spirit author Margret Helgasdottir (The Stars Seem So far Away) , while at Kristell Ink, while I鈥檇 like to recommend everybody, I鈥檒l just have to pick out three鈥 ooh, hard question! I would say Deb E Howell if you like westerns and steampunk, Steven Poore if you like High Fantasy, and Paige Daniels if you like SF and cyberpunk.

What advice can you give to fellow space travellers (writers and readers) out there?

Always know where your towel is. Though I think somebody already said that鈥 Celebrate the things you enjoy, whether they鈥檙e 鈥渃ool鈥 or not. Don鈥檛 sweat the small stuff. Write what interests you, and enjoy writing 鈥 publication is a bonus, money even more so. And eat cake.

Before we leave you and blast into another parallel universe, please tell us about yourself, your inspirations and your publishers!

Lyra and meJoanne Hall in her own words…

鈥 I live in Bristol with my dog and my boyfriend, where I write words, eat cake, and help organise BristolCon. My inspirations are my grandfather, as well as David Gemmell, Diana Wynne Jones, old castles, nature, weird bits of architecture and anything I find interesting. I鈥檓 published by Kristell Ink, who are awesome and lovely 鈥 they have published two volumes of The Art of Forgetting, and my third book with them, Spark and Carousel, is released on September 26th 鈥 launching at BristolCon with cake and wine and bombastic intro music! That鈥檚 if I can get back from this darn planet in time鈥.

Bio:

Joanne Hall lives in Bristol, England, with her partner. She has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pen, and gave up a sensible (boring) job in insurance to be a full time writer, to the despair of her mother. She dabbled in music journalism, and enjoys going to gigs and the cinema, and reading.

Her first three novels, which made up the New Kingdom Trilogy, were published by Epress Online. Since then she has had to move house to make more room for books. Her short stories have been published in several anthologies, including 鈥淒ark Spires鈥 and 鈥淔uture Bristol鈥, as well as a number of magazines. A collection of short stories, 鈥淭he Feline Queen鈥 was published by Wolfsinger Publications in April 2011, and her latest novel, 鈥淭he Art of Forgetting鈥 was published by Kristell Ink in two volumes in 2013 /14, and the first volume has been longlisted for the 2014 Tiptree Award. With Roz Clarke, she has co-edited two anthologies, 鈥淐olinthology鈥 and 鈥淎irship Shape and Bristol Fashion.鈥

She is also one of the founders of Bristolcon. Her blog can be found at www.hierath.co.uk, and she鈥檚 always happy to hear from readers.

Waterstones

Amazon UK

Amazon US

spark-and-carousel-front-cover-digitalLatest Book Blurb:

Spark and Carousel

On the run after the death of his mentor, wild with untamed magic, Spark arrives in the city of Cape Carey, where his untapped talents make him the target for rival criminal gangs. His guide through the intrigues of the Cape Carey underworld is Carousel, a wire-walker and a thief, who takes him under her wing.
Elvienne and Kayall ride south to the city, hunting the lost fosterling of their murdered friend. Their mission is to track down a killer, and prevent Spark鈥檚 magic from spiralling out of control. They need to find him before he falls into the hands of those who would exploit his raw talent for their own gain, who would force Spark to confront a power he is not ready to handle.
Wealthy Allorise Carey has her own plans for both Spark and Carousel, and the sudden arrival of the mages throws all her carefully-laid plans into disarray, as she unleashes a terrible evil onto the streets of the unsuspecting city. An evil only Spark鈥檚 magic can control, if she can track him down鈥

(Available September 26th!)

Joanne’s other great books, also available at Waterstones and Amazon!

Art-of-Forgetting-Digital-even-lower-resBook-2-Cover-AoF

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

***

Thank you, Joanne. Congratulations, you are survivor! A passing聽galactic explorer聽has honed in on your distress beacon, you鈥檙e going home!!!

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Happy Horizons! 馃榾 xx

Distant Worlds – Welcomes Ellen Crosh谩in!

This is the聽ninth post聽of a new blog series, as I dip my toes into the mysterious waters聽of author interviews!

Having watched so many fantastic interviewers (Tricia Drammeh and her Authors to Watch, AFE Smith (see below), Katrina Jack and her New Authors section聽and Susan Finlay鈥檚 Meet the Author聽to name a few of the best 鈥 please check out their wonderful blogs), I鈥檝e always been a little reluctant to throw my hat into the ring鈥ut here goes!

One of my all-time favourite worldbuilding PC games, is Sid Meier鈥檚 鈥楢lpha Centauri鈥. So, in homage to that (and a shameless rip off of BBC Radio 4鈥檚 鈥楧esert Island Discs鈥 and AFE Smith鈥檚 brilliant blog series Barren Island Books), here is my own author interview series 鈥 Distant Worlds.

space-stars-planets-1920x1200[1]

To kick off the Distant Worlds strand, over the聽last few weeks I鈥檝e been focusing on fellow fantasy and sci-fi authors from ultra-cool UK publishing house, Grimbold Books and their imprints, Kristell Ink聽and Tenebris Books聽鈥 a bunch of uber talented and whacky characters who I am also proud to call friends.

Grimbold Books聽were also doing a fabulous 鈥楽ummer Promotion鈥 from 31st July 鈥 4th August, where ALL of its wonderful titles were priced at only 99p/99c across Amazon platforms. Now, although the promotion is now over, there are still great bargains to be had, so grab yourself聽something special聽before the prices go back to normal! Awesome fiction at awesome prices!!!! hyperurl.co/GrimboldBooks聽

Right, now to our聽ninth author interview鈥onderful paranormal fantasy writer, the galactically awesome鈥

Ellen Crosh谩in

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Ellen, YOU find yourself cast adrift in deep space, your colony pod鈥檚 life support is failing, your only chance of survival is a distant habitable world鈥

What 5 essentials would you choose to help you survive?

Knowing my luck, I鈥檒l have crash-landed on a planet with blistering sunshine. Being Irish, and paler than a vampire, I鈥檇 need a sun hat. I鈥檇 need a notebook and a pen to record my last piece of artistic genius (giggles), a big bottle of grapefruit squash and some turkey jerky.

What 5 personal items would you salvage from your crashed ship before it explodes?

My favourite wedding photo, a photo of my daughter, a photo of my guinea pigs, my current WIP and Pickle, the teddy bear I made for my little girl.

Would you seek life-forms for help or go it alone?

I鈥檇 like to say I鈥檇 seek out other life-forms for help but given what I鈥檝e been researching and writing for my current WIP I鈥檇 be afraid they might eat me!

What 5 fantasy/sci-fi books would you have to keep with you and why?

  1. Jim Butcher 鈥 Ghost Story (The Dresden Files) as I am currently listening to this. I have fallen a little in love with Harry Dresden during my pregnancy. He is a wizard detective and is a really interesting character. He is also a huge nerd and loves things like Star Wars and LOTR.
  2. Neil Gaiman 鈥 American Gods. I love, love, love mythology and this novel is just amazing. It takes the traditions of loads of different mythologies and does something new and exciting with them.
  3. J.R.R Tolkien 鈥 The Lord of the Rings simply because it tells us that ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things no matter how scary the enemy is.
  4. Jim Butcher 鈥 Blood Rites (The Dresden Files). This is probably my favourite of the series. Poor Harry, who is still quite young at this stage, is very easily embarrassed and hasn鈥檛 had sex in a while, is asked to investigate some spooky murders on the set of an adult film. This a typical example of Butcher鈥檚 ability to balance humour, drama and pathos.
  5. Derek Landy 鈥 Skullduggery Pleasant. A skeleton detective, a powerful female protagonist, magic and set in Ireland. Enough said.

What 5 songs or albums could you not live without?

Oh, this is a hard one as I have such eclectic taste. At the moment I am loving Kelly Clarkson鈥檚 鈥業nvincible鈥 as it fits 脕ine my main female character from my current WIP. It鈥檚 on repeat as I write. I am a massive fan of musicals as well and my favourite is 鈥楶hantom of the Opera鈥 so I鈥檇 need that sound track. I love Classical/Baroque music so I鈥檇 need my disc that has Vivaldi鈥檚 鈥楩our seasons鈥, Pachebel鈥檚 鈥楥anon in D鈥 and Beethoven鈥檚 鈥楳oonlight Sonata鈥. I love Bon Jovi, especially the 90s stuff so I鈥檇 need them and finally my Edith Piaf CD 鈥楲a vie en Rose.鈥

You are all alone on a distant world with little chance of being rescued鈥o you choose water, vodka or coca-cola to drown your sorrows?

VODKA鈥hem. Sorry, I haven鈥檛 had a drink in 9 months. Also vodka is good for cleaning wounds and I am very clumsy so would need to clean wounds.

Random comet question: Ellen, as well as being a phenomenally talented writer, you are also an English teacher and a new mum. How have your experiences of being an English teacher, reading and commenting on so many stories from your pupils as well as being a mum, influenced your own writing?聽

I adore teaching English and unsurprisingly creative writing is my favourite thing to do. But there are some issues with teaching it. First off, basic literacy can be a nightmare. Top tip: read to your children. If they cannot read or write they are going to spend their whole school career, and beyond, struggling and having their natural curiosity and joy slowly eroded. Kids also really struggle with being free in their writing. They always ask how long should it be or if they are allowed to have vampires or monkeys or whatever in their story. I always smile and say 鈥楧o what you want. It鈥檚 your story. As long as you follow the basics of literacy, I鈥檓 happy.鈥 Once they get that they can be free with their words (and oy vey, do they need constant reassurance that they are allowed to be, that what they are doing is ok) amazing things happen. Kids have incredible imaginations and are naturally curious and their ideas for stories are often so much better than anything I could come up with. They see things from a new angle that I would not have seen and they have incredible ideas. For example, one year 11 who was struggling to rewrite a fairy story, asked if it had to follow the happily ever after pattern. I said it could be whatever he wanted. He turned Goldilocks and the three bears into a story about a jewel heist. When I see stuff like that, I am inspired to take risks with my own writing and just to try it. For example, Faroust in the sequel to 鈥楥ruelty鈥 is radically different to the creature we met in the first book. It might work, it might not but it鈥檚 fun seeing where it goes.

As for being a new mum, wow. I am in awe of the little creature who is sleeping in my living room as I type. I never want to stop looking at her, but I really should nap when she does. When I found out I was having a daughter, 脕ine, my female protagonist, took on a new meaning. I am unashamedly a Feminist, one that believes that Feminism allows a woman to be whatever she wants, from a pageant contestant to a neurologist and I want my daughter to live in a world where fiction represents that you can be both strong and gentle, frightened and protective, angry and powerful, unafraid of emotion and aware of limitations. Hopefully, 脕ine will be able to balance all of this.

You have 30 seconds (max 100 words) to tell the alien approaching you about your latest book. Remember this is more pressurised than an elevator pitch 鈥 screw up and he鈥檒l eat your brains! Go!

Ooh, right. I鈥檓 writing the sequel to 鈥機ruelty鈥. It鈥檚 about 25 years later and Eliza and Cornelius have two children, 脕ine and Caol谩n. Life seems pretty good until the Veil tears open and the two children are stolen by the Fae. Why, you ask? Hah, spoilers. But we see the return of Faroust and we wander into the Otherworlds, where we meet the Queens of the two Faerie courts, changelings and a few disgraced High Lords and Ladies of Sidh茅 along the way. It鈥檚 on a much larger scale than 鈥楥ruelty鈥 but it fits.

How would you choose to spend your time on this distant world?

I would explore, gathering inspiration, and if the residents are nice and not likely to eat me, I would find out about their experience of life, their traditions and histories.

What 5 things would you miss most about Earth?

My daughter, my husband, my guinea pigs, chocolate, tea.

What 5 things would you NOT miss about Earth?

Rudeness, green peppers, housework, bills, bananas.

Time-traveller questions (for Dr. Who fans): What is the one thing you wish you could turn back time and change?

There is one thing but it would depend on the other person.

If you had the chance again to go on this deep space adventure, would you take it?

Oh yeah. You have to take risks and chances.

What 5 indie authors and books you would recommend to any carbon based lifeform 鈥 and why?

All of the Grimboldians! Because we鈥檙e doing fantasy our way. We鈥檙e an eclectic bunch of talented people who have a wide range of interests and experiences which makes for new and exciting fiction. Here鈥檚 my top 5 of our catalogue:

  1. Sammy HK Smith 鈥 In Search of Gods and Heroes.
  2. Joanne Hall 鈥 The Art of Forgetting
  3. Joanne Hall 鈥 The Art of Forgetting: Nomad
  4. Sophie E Tallis 鈥 White Mountain
  5. A.J Dalton 鈥 Book of Orm

What advice can you give to fellow space travellers (writers and readers) out there?

You have to read. There are so many adventures to be had and things to experience. You can live a thousand lives, experience things you never would do otherwise. Reading makes you a better writer. And don鈥檛 stick to just one genre; be brave and jump into something new. You never know how much fun you鈥檒l have!

Before we leave you and blast into another parallel universe, please tell us about yourself, your inspirations and your publishers!

profile-300x300Ellen Crosh谩in in her own words…

My inspirations are really varied: from Irish mythology to romance novels, horror films to metal music, walking by the sea to lazy Sunday afternoons, I find inspiration in mostly everything in my life. I am interested in everything. I have a really lively imagination and it needs to be fed.

My book, 鈥楥ruelty鈥, is published by Kristell Ink, an imprint of Grimbold Books. We really are like a family. Not only are Sammy and Zoe publishers but they are writers too. They are really good at spotting a good idea and nurturing it into something amazing. Their advice is always designed to be helpful. The other Grimbold writers are really supportive as well; we read each other鈥檚 books, post reviews, share blogs and work together to get the word about Grimbold out there.

Well, I鈥檓 from Northern Ireland but I live in Wales. I teach English for a living at an amazing secondary school but am currently on maternity leave. I live with my lovely husband and my 6 guinea pigs, all of whom are girls. Poor husband is overrun by ladies.

Bio:

Ellen Crosh谩in grew up in Northern Ireland but despite the fact she has a proper Irish Mammy hailing from Dublin and a Northern Irish father, her accent is so slight, it can only be caught in snatches. She says it makes her work as a spy much easier as no one actually knows where she鈥檚 from.

Her love for story telling was cultivated by both her parents as they would spend hours most days reading to her and her three younger siblings. She would spend hours herself entertaining them on the long trips they had to take when her father joined the army and they moved from place to place.

Waterstones

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Cruelty

Book Blurb:

Once a year, in the caves deep below the house, the Family gathers to perform a ritual to appease their god. But Faroust only accepts payment in blood. Eliza MacTir, youngest daughter of a powerful Irish family, was born into fae gentry without the magical gifts that have coursed through the Family鈥檚 veins for millennia; she was an outcast from her first breath. Desperate for freedom, Eliza鈥檚 flight from rural Ireland is thwarted by the Family鈥檚 head of security. The only weapon she has to fight her captor is her own awakening sexuality. Drawn into the world of magic and gods, Eliza must find a way to break free, even if it means breaking the hearts of those she loves, and letting her own turn to stone. Cruelty, it runs in the Family.

***

Thank you, Ellen. Congratulations, you are survivor! A passing聽science frigate聽has honed in on your distress beacon, you鈥檙e going home!!!

solar-system-mars-free-space-planets-and-the-wallpaper[1]

Happy Horizons! 馃榾 xx

Distant Worlds – Welcomes Sophie E Tallis!

This is the聽eighth post聽of a brand new blog series, as I dip my toes into the mysterious waters聽of author interviews – and as today is my birthday (gulp) and the auspicious publishing date for a very cool fantasy/sci-fi charity anthology I’m in (A World Of Their Own), it’s my turn to be in the hot ejector seat!

Having watched so many fantastic interviewers (Tricia Drammeh and her Authors to Watch, AFE Smith (see below), Katrina Jack and her New Authors section聽and Susan Finlay鈥檚 Meet the Author聽to name a few of the best 鈥 please check out their wonderful blogs), I鈥檝e always been a little reluctant to throw my hat into the ring鈥ut here goes!

One of my all-time favourite worldbuilding PC games, is Sid Meier鈥檚 鈥楢lpha Centauri鈥. So, in homage to that (and a shameless rip off of BBC Radio 4鈥檚 鈥楧esert Island Discs鈥 and AFE Smith鈥檚 brilliant blog series Barren Island Books), here is my own author interview series 鈥 Distant Worlds.

solar-system-mars-free-space-planets-and-the-wallpaper[1]

To kick off the Distant Worlds strand, over the聽last few weeks I’ve been focusing on fellow fantasy and sci-fi authors from ultra-cool UK publishing house, Grimbold Books and their imprints, Kristell Ink聽and Tenebris Books聽鈥 a bunch of uber talented and whacky characters who I am also proud to call friends.

Grimbold Books聽were also doing a fabulous 鈥楽ummer Promotion鈥 from 31st July 鈥 4th August, where ALL of its wonderful titles were priced at only 99p/99c across Amazon platforms. Now, although the promotion is now over, there are still great bargains to be had, so grab yourself聽something special聽before the prices go back to normal! Awesome fiction at awesome prices!!!! hyperurl.co/GrimboldBooks聽

Right, now to our聽eighth author interview鈥pic fantasy writer and illustrator鈥

Sophie E Tallis

Blue-Outer-Planets-Picture-Space-Wallpaper-For-Deskstop-Mobile-Free-6290239849[1]

Sophie, YOU find yourself cast adrift in deep space, your colony pod鈥檚 life support is failing, your only chance of survival is a distant habitable world鈥

What 5 essentials would you choose to help you survive?

I always think of Ray Mears here, who undoubtedly would say fresh water, shelter, food and fire would be essentials. So, I’d take my very handy Swiss Army penknife with a ridiculous amount of useful tools in it, a waterproof and spider proof tent (essential for me!), a lighter, plastic bottle for water and warm blanket.聽 馃檪

What 5 personal items would you salvage from your crashed ship before it explodes?

If I couldn’t take my four gorgeous white wolves with me and my family and friends, then I’d have to grab paper, pens, pencils, photos and some kind of music. If I can’t draw or write I’d go crazy pretty quickly and I need to have music.

Would you seek life-forms for help or go it alone?

I’m such an anti-social sod, I’d probably enjoy going it alone.

What 5 fantasy/sci-fi books would you have to keep with you and why?

It’s almost impossible choosing only 5 books because I love so many, but I’d probably mostly choose the classics, things I know I love already and can read again and again. (There may be some cheating here!)

  1. The Complete works of Philip K Dick (I LOVE ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’, ‘A Scanner Darkly’, but also his short stories are awesome, ‘Minority Report’, ‘Total Recall’)
  2. The Complete works of JRR Tolkien (are you seeing a pattern here?)
  3. The Complete works of Frank Herbert (Dune has proved a very popular choice in these interviews, why? Because it is awesome!)
  4. The Complete works of GRR Martin (these are such large tomes they should keep me going for a while.)
  5. The Complete works of Joseph Conrad (yeap, strange choice perhaps, but I love ‘Heart of Darkness’)

What 5 songs or albums could you not live without?

I have incredibly eclectic tastes, but will leave out my opera and heavy metal albums.

  1. OK Computer – Radiohead (this was聽the sound track to my 4 month backpacking trip around New Zealand in 97/98. Awesome band, awesome album.)
  2. Pure Cult – best of The Cult (also part of my NZ soundtrack)
  3. Best of Vaughan Williams – I love Fantastia on a theme of Thomas Tallis, the soundtrack to White Mountain.
  4. Ten – Pearl Jam (great album and a huge part of my student days, when all I listened to was Grunge Rock – Soundgarden, MotherLoveBone, Soul Asylum, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Live…ahhh, the endless lumberjack check shirts,聽youth angst聽and long dirty hair!)
  5. Best of Blondie – (I wanted to be Debbie Harry!)

You are all alone on a distant world with little chance of being rescued鈥o you choose water, vodka or coca-cola to drown your sorrows?

Sadly water. Still can’t drink vodka since my missing 24hour memory gap from a binge when I was 17, and I don’t want Coca-Cola rotten teeth.

Random comet question: If you had to live somewhere else, would you chose Westeros or Middle-Earth?

I think Westeros would be awesome, but as much as I’d like to see myself as a strong survivor mother聽of dragons type, in reality I’d end up being murdered in about 5 mins by a drunk dwarf or have my head squashed by the Mountain. So I’ll be a coward and will choose a nice quiet corner in Middle-Earth, maybe the Grey Havens, and settle down with a dingy and a fishing rod.

You have 30 seconds (max 100 words) to tell the alien approaching you about your latest book. Remember this is more pressurised than an elevator pitch 鈥 screw up and he鈥檒l eat your brains! Go!

Book 2:

Darkness spreads, as prophetic warnings come to pass and a series of disturbing murders and arson attacks on the world’s great libraries and museums,聽multiply across the globe.

Morreck the Corruptor, an evil changeling of terrifying strength and sworn enemy of all elder races and humanity alike, has sired a ‘darkling child’, an heir that could bring about the destruction of the world.

The hunt is on and the war to end all wars is about to begin鈥

How would you choose to spend your time on this distant world?

Drawing, painting if I can make up some pigments from the surrounding materials available, and of course, writing.

What 5 things would you miss most about Earth?

In no order. My dogs, my family and friends, birdsong and nature in general (especially forests, Dartmoor, blue oceans).

What 5 things would you NOT miss about Earth?

Where do I start? Religion, war (often caused by religion or ego), pollution (including crappy reality TV), capitalistic greed and right-wing ***holes (the Tories and Republican Party).

Time-traveller questions (for Dr. Who fans): If you had the chance again to go on this deep space adventure, would you take it?

Yes, I think I would. 馃檪

What is the one thing you wish you could turn back time and change?

Wow, there are so many things I wish I could replay and do differently. I don’t dwell on my regrets, life is too short, but…Yes, our struggles and strife make us the people we are, but I think I could have done with less character building and more happiness. I wish I could have stood up to the toxic people in my life earlier, before they caused all the damage they did, especially my ultra-violent alcoholic father, and just told him to…ahem off and then gotten on with my life.

What 5 indie authors and books you would recommend to any carbon based lifeform 鈥 and why?

Again, its so tricky to pick only 5, I have about 8 indie books on the go at the moment with a TBR pile of gargantuan proportions!

  1. Vortex – by Lindsey J Parsons. I admit that this is a sentimental choice for my dear friend who sadly passed away last year, but it’s also a great book!
  2. In Search of Gods and Heroes – by Sammy HK Smith. I haven’t finished this book yet, yes I’m slow, but it’s a brilliant book already.
  3. The Cooper Promise – Jen Williams. Okay, strictly speaking not an indie author as she is with one of the Big 5 publishers, but she’s a new writer and this was her debut and from what I’ve read…wow!
  4. The Art of Forgetting – by Joanne Hall, another awesome book I have started and am hugely enjoying.
  5. Willow Weep No More – An anthology of dark fairy tales by Tenebris Books, full of real gems.
  6. Yes, it’s my birthday so I’m picking 6 books! Songs of Seraphina – by Jude Houghton. I drew the fantasy map for聽this book which got me really interested in reading it. I’ve only just started, but it’s great!

What advice can you give to fellow space travellers (writers and readers) out there?

Put the effort in and don’t rush yourself. Yes, there are plenty of authors out there who can whisk off a new book every few months and good luck to them, if you’re not one of those (which I certainly am not), then don’t rush yourself. Write the very best book you can and worry about time scales later, if it’s good enough it will be worth the wait. Do your research, treat the readers with respect, even if you only use a fraction of that research in your novel, the readers will thank you for putting the effort into your worldbuilding.

Before we leave you and blast into another parallel universe, please tell us about yourself, your inspirations and your publishers!

SAM_5206Sophie E Tallis in her own words…

I won’t use my standard bio because, hey, I’m getting bored of it!

Okay, I’m a glacially slow writer, who loves fantasy, science-fiction and most things of a nerdish nature. After 16 years of full time teaching I’ve swapped 50+ hour weeks, horrible office politics and heavy workloads for part-time, low stress work in a library surrounded by books and lovely people! Do I miss my old job? Er, no! When I’m not working, I’m juggling writing, illustrating and managing a hectic life with my four enormous white wolves who keep life very…ahem, interesting!

My inspirations are life, great writing聽and the natural world around me.

My publishers, Grimbold Books, well, what can say? I owe them so much. They did a beautiful job on my novel, real care taken and what a gorgeous cover! I won’t hark on about the past, but my first publishers were terrible people to deal with, just a thoroughly horrible, scarring experience, but Grimbold Books and their imprints, Kristell Ink and Tenebris Books couldn’t be more different – professional,聽author-friendly, honest,聽just lovely people who have your back and want the best for you and your聽novel.

My debut novel, epic fantasy, White Mountain, was re-published 1st December 2014 and I’m busy writing the sequel (slowly). I also write short stories and poetry and have 7 short stories being published this year in various anthologies.

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  • A World Of Their Own – An awesome聽anthology of fantasy, sci-fi and literary short stories by ‘The Alliance of Worldbuilders’ (AWB) is published 4th September 2015 (TODAY!!!!!). ALL profits go to a聽charity, a very worthy cause – The World Literacy Fund. I have three short stories in the anthology, ‘The Wishing Tree’, ‘Happiness is a lie’, and ‘The Artist’ as well as 6 fab illustrations. Amazon UK聽聽&聽 Amazon US
  • H is for HawkesburyH is for Hawkesbury – An anthology of short stories, poetry and novel extracts from the inaugural Hawkesbury Upton Literary Festival, published 19th August 2015. I did the illustration for the front cover and have one of my favourite ‘White Mountain’ excerpts in it –聽Amazon UK
  • Fight-Like-A-Girl coverFight Like A Girl – A kick-ass anthology of聽women writers focusing on strong female protagonists who kick arse. I have an awesome聽sci-fi short story in this, ‘Silent Running’. To be published Autumn/Winter 2015 by聽Kristell Ink.
  • The Orphan and the Iron Troll (borderless)Shadows of the Oak – A wonderfully dark collection of equally dark fairy tales and sequel to ‘Willow Weep No More’. I have a magical Russian fairy tale, ‘The Orphan and the Iron Troll’, in this and the illustration I did to go with it. To be published Autumn/Winter 2015 by Tenebris Books.
  • I’ll be a little mysterious now as the details still need to be worked out, but there are two brand new ‘White Mountain’ short stories I’m hoping will tide over fans until Book 2 is ready next year. Very exciting!

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Book Blurb:

A dying world hidden from our own. An ancient people conquered by human progress. A ruthless changeling bent on revenge and power鈥nd a sorcerer and dragon determined to stop him.

Amongst our modern world, lies another. An archaic and hidden world of tradition, sorcery and magic. Lost, long before the last Ice Age and barely surviving beneath the onslaught of human advance, it now faces its greatest challenge and its bitterest enemy.

As dark demons awaken from the past and a series of sinister disappearances and murders plague the secret cities of the few remaining elder tribes, a group of disparate travellers race against time to save a friend and destroy an evil that threatens to swallow us all鈥

***

Thank you, Sophie. Yes, congratulations, you are survivor! A聽decrepit mining transport聽has honed in on your distress beacon, you鈥檙e going home!!!

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Happy Horizons! 馃榾 xxx