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

Distant Worlds – Welcomes Augusta Bruce!

As 2016 continues, so too does our series of interviews. These galactic travels to ‘Distant Worlds’ are a cool way of spotlighting the very best new speculative fiction along with its creators – those聽hidden gems that are so often ignored by the mainstream. So, as today聽marks the 4th year anniversary of this little blog,聽we celebrate with聽another gem…this time an editor of fantasy fiction!

Having watched so many fantastic interviewers (Tricia Drammeh and her Authors to Watch, AFE Smith, 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, but 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.

25[1]

The Distant Worlds strand started last year, 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. Check out their cool titles while they鈥檙e still at bargain prices! hyperurl.co/GrimboldBooks聽

Right, now to our聽nineteenth聽interview and one of the newest members of the Grimbold Books family, the mysterious editor at large and fellow cool cat鈥

Augusta Bruce

68[1]

Augusta, 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?

A kick-ass sword, a water-detector, an endless supply of raspberry jam and butter sandwiches, suncream, a light flowing scarf and a pogo stick.

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

My diary, my ink pen, my white rabbit, my guitar and my yoga mat (which transforms into a flying carpet).

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

I would definitely seek other life-forms for help, and try and make some friends along the way, but I also like the idea of trekking through arid deserts alone for a while.

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

Patrick Rothfuss鈥檚 ‘The Slow Regard of Silent Things’ 鈥 because Auri, the book鈥檚 main character, is alone throughout the book, and deals with it brilliantly 鈥 never losing hope. Neil Gaiman鈥檚 ‘Sandman’ series, as I would probably be in need of some delectable illustrations and dark humour. Maurice Sendak鈥檚 ‘Where the Wild Things Are’, for its sumptuous illustrations, as well as this book鈥檚 relevance for the person who finds themselves roaming a distant world. Antoine de Saint-Exup茅ry鈥檚 ‘The Little Prince’ for the same reason just mentioned. J G Ballard鈥檚 ‘The Drowned World’, for its gorgeous, surreal descriptions.

What 5 songs or albums could you not live without?

Pink Floyd鈥檚 ‘Dark Side of the Moon’, Fleetwood Mac鈥檚 ‘Rumours, Ask the Deep’ by Sley, ‘Play’ by Moby, ‘Nomade’ by Cat鈥檚 Eyes and ‘An American Prayer’ by The Doors.

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, the Bison grass one, a little apple juice and a lime twist wouldn鈥檛 go amiss鈥

Random comet question: Which fantasy world would you choose to live in and why?

A world that looks like a cartoon 鈥 I鈥檓 thinking Neil Gaiman or Studio Ghibli鈥 Where all the people are cats鈥

Which villainous fantasy character would you befriend or be?

I would befriend Bellatrix Lestrange, because I think she鈥檇 be a riot, and am convinced she has a softer side.

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

N / A 鈥 I am a Grimbold editor!

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

Taking things really slowly, learning some new skills or crafts, learning how to converse with aliens, becoming bad ass at survival stuff and swordplay.

What 5 things would you miss most about Earth?

My family and friends, the Internet, mud and rain-sodden days (for some reason I always imagine other worlds as primarily desert!), old houses, sushi, art shops.

What 5 things would you NOT miss about Earth?

Fast food chains, tabloid newspapers, pollution, adverts, the loading icon on YouTube.

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

I wouldn鈥檛 necessarily change anything, but I would love to have the chance to live my life over and over again in different ways, taking different paths each time.

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

Not sure what constitutes indie鈥

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

Do things at your own pace, heed others鈥 advice, but don鈥檛 let them tell you what you should or shouldn鈥檛 do, live madly, follow your instincts, love deeply, always have faith in yourself.

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

12404160_10153282860087308_1051064583_n[1]Augusta in her own words…

I am a former Sims addict who now lives in London, where I hoard books and go on city jaunts. I edit the Advaya Magazine, an online quarterly specialising in arts, activism and ecology. When I鈥檓 not editing for Grimbold, I tinker away with my own writing webs. I like stepping back, seeing the world for what it is 鈥 strange, magical, and utterly surprising. I am inspired by the visionary work of Guillermo del Toro, director of ‘Pan鈥檚 Labyrinth’ and, most recently, ‘Crimson Peak’, as well as the work of Angela Carter.

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Bio:

Having graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Manchester, Augusta decided to take a break from institutional structures, to focus on creative writing. This brought her to a highland cottage in Wales, where the sheep did not take to her, despite her best efforts. Now she is based in London, where she edits Advaya Magazine, an online quarterly specialising in arts, activism and ecology. When Augusta is not working, she traipses the streets of London, nurturing her thirst for travel and adventure. The macabre, the eerie, the gothic and the outlandish all appeal to Augusta鈥檚 tastes. As a child she was addicted to Sims, and now she is a compulsive hoarder of books. She also greatly enjoys music, yoga, being helpful to others, and refrigerated macaroons.

***

Thank you, Augusta. Congratulations, you are survivor! A passing聽fleet of mining drones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 AFE Smith!

Well, amidst a sea of tears over the devastating news that one of my all-time idols, David Bowie has died at the age of only 69, I will post this blog聽as planned as a little tribute to creativity for which David Bowie was such a master. RIP Davy Jones, we all love you and will feel your loss for the rest of our lives…聽 (1947 – 2016) 馃槮 鉂 xxxx

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The silly season is over and 2016 beckons with the promise of yet more great books to read and new authors to discover. I hope in some small part that this series helps to spotlight some of these hidden聽gems. So, for the first interview of 2016 and the eighteenth outing of this series, we have a treat…author extraordinaire, AFE Smith.

Having watched so many fantastic interviewers (Tricia Drammeh and her Authors to Watch, AFE Smith (today’s interviewee! –聽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o today I’m a little nervous interviewing聽‘Barren Island Books’ interviewer AFE Smith herself!

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.

Fire-Planet[1]The Distant Worlds strand started last year, 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. Check out their cool titles while they鈥檙e still at bargain prices! hyperurl.co/GrimboldBooks聽

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A World Of Their Own 鈥 an awesome anthology of fantasy, sci-fi and literary short stories, with ALL profits going to charity!

But now we鈥檙e branching out and will be zoning in on an extraordinary group of people, The Alliance of Worldbuilders (AWB), who I am also聽VERY proud to call close friends.

The AWB 鈥 a bunch of uber-talented fantasy and sci-fi writers and artists who met on the HarperCollins writing site, Authonomy, back in 2010. We formed The Alliance of Worldbuilders, a friendly, inclusive and wacky group and our collective friendships have seen us through some very hard times, including the sad loss of one of our own, Lindsey J Parsons. In honour of Lindsey, our dear friend who tragically died in January 2014, the AWB have created an awesome anthology of short stories, which was published in glorious paperback and e-book on 4th September 2015! It makes the perfect prezzie and ALL profits go to charity, the World Literacy Fund, fighting illiteracy around the world, so grab a great book聽and help聽a great cause too!聽Amazon UK聽& Amazon US

Right, now to our聽eighteenth聽author interview and our聽sixth AWB member, the聽Spymaster general herself, the mysterious fantasy writer…

AFE Smith

25[1]

AFE, 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?

If this were a normal stranded-survivor story, I would probably die after about a day, because I have no practical skills whatsoever. But I’m going to assume that since I’m part of a space colony, I come from a scientifically advanced society that can supply me with some whizzy gadgets. So I’d go for:

Some kind of respiratory mask. The planet may be habitable but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t got viciously adaptable micro-organisms. I don’t want to be knocked off my feet by alien flu while I’m trying to survive.

A water purifier/air-to-water distiller. For many of the same reasons. And I want to have enough to drink even if I land on a part of the planet where rain is infrequent and waterways are scarce.

A strong, lightweight tent with enough insulation to keep me warm at night.

A solar-powered survival manual so I can look up which plants are safe to eat, how to make fire, etc. If it could say DON’T PANIC in large friendly letters on the cover, that would be a bonus.

And talking of which, a Babel fish.

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

Given that I’m going to be carrying my home on my back for a while, I’d better not take anything heavy or bulky. I’d definitely take a photo of my family. And my laptop (assuming I can get a solar-powered battery pack), allowing me to keep a log of my adventures in case (a) I die horribly and future space explorers want to find out what happened to me, or (b) I survive the whole thing and can turn my experiences into a blockbuster movie starring Matt Damon. But other than that, I’ll give up all my personal possessions and stick to the survival gear, thanks.

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

It depends what my survival manual has to say about the indigenous population. If they are friendly, great. Hopefully they can help me build a transmitter to send a distress signal back to Earth. But if they’re the kind of life-forms who like to sacrifice human cattle to the great god Belzi’iar, I’ll steer well clear.

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

I guess I have a solar-powered e-reader with me too, then! Fantasy novels are BIG, on the whole, and I don’t fancy lugging them around with me.

I would take the complete works of Terry Pratchett, Robin Hobb, Diana Wynne Jones and Juliet Marillier. All of those are comfort reads and I figure I’m going to need a lot of comforting. (And yes, I know taking ‘complete works’ is a total cheat, but the beauty of e-readers is that you can fit a vast quantity of books on them, and since I’m about to be slaughtered by a worshipper of Belzi’iar I hope you’ll cut me some slack.)

I’d also take my own complete works, such as they are. Not because I think they deserve to survive over anything else, but because being stranded on an alien planet might actually give me a better chance of meeting my current writing deadline than I have right now.

What 5 songs or albums could you not live without?

I never get to listen to music any more, other than the Frozen soundtrack (thanks, three-year-old). Hey, this is going to be great! I’m actually looking forward to this terrible disaster now!

I reckon I should choose as wide a range of music as possible, to stand the greatest chance of bonding with the aliens over music and thereby convincing them not to dig my intestines out with a spoon. So I’d take The Beatles’ White Album, Wishbone Ash’s Argus, Steeleye Span’s Commoner’s Crown, my Max Bruch/Mendelssohn album of violin concertos 鈥 heck, and the Frozen soundtrack. It would remind me of my children.

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?

I haven’t drunk alcohol for nearly five years, so it would take very little vodka to drown my sorrows. And since I haven’t yet managed to make myself a toothbrush (dammit, should have claimed that as one of my personal possessions!) I’d better avoid the Coke. So I’ll stick to water.

Random comet question: As a hard working editor and new mum to two little ones, how do you juggle your life to ensure that you have ‘writing time’?

Ha! That makes it sound like I have some sort of plan! With a full-time job and two young children, the only writing time I have is in the evenings after everyone has gone to bed. But of course, that’s the only time I have to get anything else done, too. I’d say I manage a handful of evenings per week … assuming I don’t just fall asleep, which happens far too often and proves that I’m older than I’d like to think.

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

What? That’s even worse than being sacrificed to Belzi’iar!

No, wait, that didn’t count as part of my 100 words 鈥 what do you mean, these words count too? That’s not fair! I 鈥

OK. Fine. OK.

Since I’m rapidly running out of words, I’ll just say that my latest book is a sequel to my first, and they both feature shapeshifters, pistols, an industrial city, a big chunk of mystery, a dash of romance, and people trying to kill each other in a variety of interesting ways. You ought to appreciate that, brain-eating alien.

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

Trying not to die. If I succeeded at that, I would write increasingly delirious streams of consciousness on my laptop whilst talking to a nearby tree upon which I had drawn a smiley face.

What 5 things would you miss most about Earth?

Chocolate. The landscapes (these long spindly purple trees are all very well, but they’re not like home). Other humans. New books. Did I mention chocolate?

What 5 things would you NOT miss about Earth?

Politicians. War. Other humans. Creepy crawlies (please tell me there are no spiders on this planet). Constantly feeling like a failure (I figure if I survive this new situation, that automatically makes me a success 鈥 and if I don’t, I won’t care because I’ll be dead.)

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

Nothing. The things I’d like to change are large enough that they’d have profound knock-on effects. I’ve read and watched enough time-travel stories to know that’s a terrible idea and would probably result in my own extinction. And the smaller things wouldn’t be worth the effort (I mean, I’d like not to have been such a total disaster in secondary school, but I don’t think it’s worth the cost of a TARDIS).

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

Yeah. Why not? It’s been fun, if you ignore the bloodthirsty aliens and gradual descent into madness.

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

Harriet Goodchild 鈥 beautiful, complex, poetic fantasy with a real love of language.

Evangeline Jennings 鈥 taut, gripping, often sexy and always brutal femme noir. (If you don’t know what femme noir is, you should totally go and find out.)

Hazel Butler 鈥 fascinating, myth-drenched Gothic fantasy that blends darkness and light to great effect.

S.L. Huang 鈥 action-packed sci-fi with a kick-ass mathematician heroine. (Maths-based superpowers FTW!)

W.R. Gingell 鈥 gentle, tongue-in-cheek fantasy romance mysteries. Think Georgette Heyer with magic.

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

Always know where your towel is. (Dammit! Towel! That’s another useful personal possession I could have claimed! Can I go back in time and change the answer to my time-travel question to say I’d change what personal possessions I took with me 鈥 no? Too complicated? OK.)

Don’t be like me, children. Appreciate your towel while you have it.

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

Author_photo_DARKHAVEN_AFE_SmithAFE in her own words…

That’s a HUGE question to end on. Er 鈥 I am a fantasy writer, an editor, a Ravenclaw and a robin, not necessarily in that order. You may already have gathered that I have a weird sense of humour (there’s a reason I don’t write comedy; no-one else ever thinks the same things are funny). I have two children, neither of whom I want to sacrifice to the great god Belzi’iar (though sometimes it’s a close-run thing).

My inspirations are as varied as life itself. That’s a nicely pretentious statement, so I’ll just leave that one there.

My publisher is Harper Voyager. They also publish people like Robin Hobb, George R.R. Martin and Mark Lawrence. Which makes me feel rather like I’ve accidentally gate-crashed a celebrity party and now I’m sitting quietly in a corner, hoping no-one will notice me and tell me to go away.

Bio:

A.F.E. Smith is an editor of academic texts by day and a fantasy writer by night. So far, she hasn鈥檛 mixed up the two. She lives with her husband and their two young children in a house that someone built to be as creaky as possible 鈥 getting to bed without waking the baby is like crossing a nightingale floor. Though she doesn鈥檛 have much spare time, she makes space for reading, mainly by not getting enough sleep (she鈥檚 powered by chocolate). Her physical bookshelves were stacked two deep long ago, so now she鈥檚 busy filling up her e-reader.

What A.F.E. stands for is a closely guarded secret, but you might get it out of her if you offer her enough snacks.

AFE social media links:

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

Cover_image_DARKHAVEN_AFE_SmithBook Blurb:

Ayla Nightshade never wanted to rule Darkhaven.

Yet her half-brother Myrren hasn鈥檛 inherited the family鈥檚 ability to shapeshift, so their father, Florentyn, forces Ayla to take over as heir to the throne.

When Ayla is accused of Florentyn鈥檚 brutal murder only Myrren believes her innocent and aids her escape. A fugitive from her own guard, Ayla must now fight to clear her name if she is ever to wear the crown she never wanted and be allowed to return to the home she has always loved.

But does something more sinister than the power to shapeshift lie at the heart of the Nightshade family line?

DARKHAVEN buy links

HarperCollins Amazon (global link) WaterstonesBarnes & Noble Google play iBooks Kobo

Goldenfire cover mediumAFE Smith’s new book being released by Harper Voyager this week on January 14th 2016!

*

GOLDENFIRE preorder links

HarperCollins Amazon Barnes & Noble Google play iBooks Kobo

***

 

Thank you, AFE. Congratulations, you are survivor! A passing聽Illyrian mining vessel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 Sam Dogra!

This is the seventeenth outing of a new blog series, as I dabble my toes into the mysterious waters 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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The Distant Worlds strand started a few months ago, 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. Check out their cool titles while they鈥檙e still at bargain prices! hyperurl.co/GrimboldBooks聽

10628434_901588523202885_688426025216875644_n[1]

A World Of Their Own 鈥 an awesome anthology of fantasy, sci-fi and literary short stories, with ALL profits going to charity!

But now we鈥檙e branching out and will be zoning in on an extraordinary group of people, The Alliance of Worldbuilders (AWB), who I am also聽VERY proud to call close friends.

The AWB 鈥 a bunch of uber-talented fantasy and sci-fi writers and artists who met on the HarperCollins writing site, Authonomy, back in 2010. We formed The Alliance of Worldbuilders, a friendly, inclusive and wacky group and our collective friendships have seen us through some very hard times, including the sad loss of one of our own, Lindsey J Parsons. In honour of Lindsey, our dear friend who tragically died in January 2014, the AWB have created an awesome anthology of short stories, which was published in glorious paperback and e-book on 4th September 2015! It makes the perfect prezzie and ALL profits go to charity, the World Literacy Fund, fighting illiteracy around the world, so grab a great book聽and help聽a great cause too!聽Amazon UK聽& Amazon US

Right, now to our聽seventeenth聽author interview, and our聽fifth AWB member, the聽Vice Captain (VC)聽herself,聽the doctor of chaos and large weapons of mass destruction (she’s soon to be a REAL doctor!),聽dark paranormal fantasy writer and artist鈥

Sam Dogra

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Sam, 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?

Wow, talk about being thrown in the deep end! Well, I鈥檇 probably want my medical bag (which I take to work; it has all sorts of useful equipment in it), a water bottle/ container of some kind, my smartphone and its solar powered charger (is that two items?), and my old tent.

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

My paperback copy of Sabriel, a photo of my family, a stash of chocolate/ cake I鈥檇 undoubtedly be carrying, my cuddly toy dragon and my sketchbook!

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

Seek life-forms for sure, I鈥檓 definitely not the outdoors type.

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

Well, Garth Nix鈥檚 Sabriel, as aforementioned. It was the first fantasy book I read and it remains my all-time favourite. I鈥檇 also take Alison Croggon鈥檚 Books of Pellinor (if I鈥檓 just allowed one it would be the fourth one, The Singing), as this was the first 鈥榟eavy鈥 fantasy I actually like [sorry to say I am NOT a fan of Tolkein at all!]. I鈥檇 also bring Diana Wynne Jones鈥 Tough Guide to Fantasy Land, as I love how it makes fun of various fantasy Tropes. I鈥檇 then bring along the third book of Julia Golding鈥檚 Companions Quartet (The Mines of the Minotaur), as it鈥檚 a fantastic look into the relationship between mythical creatures and humans. And last but not least, Bardo by Chris McKenna, a fun-filled adventure exploring the theme of reincarnation and rebirth.

What 5 songs or albums could you not live without?

To be honest I鈥檓 not that much of a music fan, and my taste is pretty acquired! I鈥檇 be happy with my Japanese Vocaloid songs, and I also quite like the talented violin work of Lindsey Stirling. I also like the work of Hiroyuki Sawano, who does a lot of anime soundtracks.

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?

Could I mix the coca-cola with the vodka? (Absolutely!)

Random comet question: Marmite – love it or loathe it?

I鈥檝e never tried it so鈥omething to add to my lists of regrets?

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

Crikey, right then! My book follows Eliza, a girl who falls prey to a curse that forces people to fall in love. She鈥檚 鈥楤ound鈥 to Ryan, a bounty hunter with secrets of his own. So, Eliza must break her curse, before Ryan finds out they鈥檙e Bound and before his past catches up with him. Of course, Eliza gets more than she bargained for. So, as she searches for a cure that鈥檚 not guaranteed to work, and has her heart turned inside out with feelings that aren鈥檛 her own, she also needs to come to terms with how her choices affect those around her.

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

Well once the basics of food, water and shelter were covered, I鈥檇 like to explore, study the wildlife and plants, and perhaps draw them in my sketch book. In between sending transmissions for help, of course!

What 5 things would you miss most about Earth?

Internet! My family too, along with video games, the concept of dessert, and of course my friends.

What 5 things would you NOT miss about Earth?

Mobile phone companies, traffic, bigoted know-it-alls, deadlines, and people who are two-faced.

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

Hmm鈥othing immediately springs to mind! Perhaps being more sociable at University and that I鈥檇 kept in touch with more people.

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

To be honest, no! I am firmly on the side of Earth exploration when it comes to whether we should explore space/ home first (and I鈥檝e got a book in the works addressing this topic鈥)

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

Hmm鈥ell I鈥檇 recommend Bardo by Chris McKenna as above, as it鈥檚 so much fun to read. I鈥檇 also recommend Simon Wilson鈥檚 Yuko Zen is Somewhere Else, which has an adorable quirky style. The Binding Stone by Lisa Gail Green is a great character study involving djinns, and I鈥檇 also recommend Thorn by Intisar Knanani, a very well-written take on an old fairytale for when you just want to be swept away. Finally I鈥檇 also recommend The Spirit Keeper by Melissa Garrett, an enchanting romance with Native American themes.

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

No idea is stupid, but unless you give it structure it can end up that way! So even if you鈥檙e one of those 鈥榳rite it as it comes鈥 authors, please do not underestimate the importance of having a framework to maintain consistency.

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

Sam DograSam in her own words…

I am an (overworked) doctor working for the NHS. I鈥檓 in my final year of General Practice training and exams pending I鈥檒l be a fully-fledged GP by next August. In between seeing patients, writing reports, and doing home visits, I dabble in fantasy fiction writing and digital fantasy art, the latter of which you can sample at http://sam241.deviantart.com .

Unlike most other writers, I鈥檓 not particularly inspired by books; I take a lot more from video games and Japanese anime (my age is showing 馃檪 ). The Binding came about as I was doing my hospital job shadowing (way back in 2011) and was taking some blood samples to the lab. I just saw an image of a girl sitting alone in a dark forest because she had a vulnerable heart, and everything just sprang from there. As a wild guess I鈥檇 say the Kingdom Hearts series (video games) was probably the main influence, as well as the anime Romeo x Juliet as I borrowed a few of the aesthetics from there. Not to mention my general dislike of the romance genre and its mistreatment of plot 馃槈

Sam’s Amazon UK Author Page

Sam’s Amazon US Author Page

Bio:

Sam Dogra is a junior doctor working in the UK, and is currently training to become a General Practitioner. Between reviewing drug charts and X-rays, taking blood, saving lives and getting grilled by consultants, she also writes fantasy fiction and is a fantasy artist. She has co-written ‘Fated: A Timeless Series Companion Novel’ with author Lisa Wiedmeier, and has also published her first novel The Binding, and its sequel, The Parting, with a third book in progress.

She’s widely travelled, and has enjoyed her visits to France, Germany, Norway, Greece, Egypt, Israel, Rhodes, Turkey, Cyprus, Lesvos, India, Dubai, Australia, Canada and Idaho, Washington, New York, Seattle and Alaska, USA. Her other main interest is fantasy art.

In what little spare time she has, Sam also enjoys reading, baking, shopping, watching movies and anime, astrology, video games, collecting cuddly toy animals, and photography.

Additional Links:

Website/ blog: http://indigolightning.blogspot.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Chronicles-of-Azaria-Series/229718793739428

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MadDoctorArtist

Artwork: http://sam241.deviantart.com

The PartingLatest Book Blurb

When your feelings are false, what’s left to believe in?

After the revelation of Ryan’s secret, Eliza is determined to reclaim her lost freedom. Her only hope lies in the Holy Runes鈥攖he mysterious symbols linked to the creation of the Binding spell itself. Now with her best friend Adam and the haughty Lady Navinka, Eliza must journey across Azaria to forge a power great enough to break her curse.

The Binding isn’t going down without a fight, though, and the runes aren’t without ill effects of their own. As if that wasn’t enough, a dark cult seeking revenge is out for Eliza, and she must deal with her troubled feelings for Ryan and Adam. Struggling on all fronts just to survive, Eliza’s freedom will be hard-earned, but will the final price be too much to pay?

***

Sam’s other fabulous books!

The Binding515I4HohFjL._SX340_BO1,204,203,200_[1]

Thank you, Sam. Congratulations, you are survivor! A passing聽medical聽drone ship聽has honed in on your distress beacon, you鈥檙e going home!!!

outer%20space%20planets%20space%20station%20science%20fiction%20asteroids_wallpaperswa.com_8[1]

Happy Horizons! 馃榾 xx

Distant Worlds – Welcomes Katrina Jack!

This is the sixteenth outing of a new blog series, as I dabble my toes into the mysterious waters of author interviews!

Having watched so many fantastic interviewers (Tricia Drammeh and her Authors to Watch, AFE Smith (see below), Katrina Jack (yes, the interview goddess herself is being interviewed this week!) 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.

outer-space-planets-hd-background-wallpaper-51[1]

The Distant Worlds strand started a few months ago, 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. Check out their cool titles while they鈥檙e still at bargain prices! hyperurl.co/GrimboldBooks聽

10628434_901588523202885_688426025216875644_n[1]

A World Of Their Own 鈥 an awesome anthology of fantasy, sci-fi and literary short stories, with ALL profits going to charity!

But now we鈥檙e branching out and will be zoning in on an extraordinary group of people, The Alliance of Worldbuilders (AWB), who I am also聽VERY proud to call close friends.

The AWB 鈥 a bunch of uber-talented fantasy and sci-fi writers and artists who met on the HarperCollins writing site, Authonomy, back in 2010. We formed The Alliance of Worldbuilders, a friendly, inclusive and wacky group and our collective friendships have seen us through some very hard times, including the sad loss of one of our own, Lindsey J Parsons. In honour of Lindsey, our dear friend who tragically died in January 2014, the AWB have created an awesome anthology of short stories, which was published in glorious paperback and e-book on 4th September 2015! It makes the perfect prezzie and ALL profits go to charity, the World Literacy Fund, fighting illiteracy around the world, so grab a great book聽and help聽a great cause too!聽Amazon UK聽& Amazon US

Right, now to our聽sixteenth聽author interview, and our聽forth AWB interview, the Midnight Marauder herself, Queen of interviews and dark urban fantasy, the wonderful鈥

Katrina Jack

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Katrina, 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?

Hmm, only 5? Hard to choose. Well first would have to be my laptop, so I could write about what I see. Then there鈥檚 my cat, Meg, for company. I鈥檇 also have to have a box of cat food, 鈥榗os she nags incessantly to be fed. I鈥檇 also have to have a pad and pen to make notes about my adventure. Oh, and several bars of chocolate.

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

My Kindle, can鈥檛 live without that. My comfy slippers, 鈥榗os I have flat feet. My leopard print pyjamas; alright, I鈥檝e got no taste, but I like 鈥榚m. My favourite fluffy blanket, and last, but not least, a family sized bottle of diet Pepsi.

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

I probably would seek out other life-forms, but I鈥檇 watch them from a distance for a while, to see if they were friendly or likely to bite my head off.

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

Oh it鈥檇 have to be any of Terry Pratchett鈥檚 discworld novels, because they make me laugh and his characters are fantastic. And a book I鈥檝e recently discovered, via the TV series, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. The series was fantastic. For once the BBC had actually spent money, as the production values were superb. The book is beautifully written, with vivid characterisation and marvellous narrative and dialogue.

What 5 songs or albums could you not live without?

Holst鈥檚 Planet Suite, Meat Loaf鈥檚 Bat out of Hell, Roy Orbison鈥檚 Pretty Woman, Jethro Tull鈥檚 Thick as a Brick, and Nat King Cole鈥檚 Unforgettable.

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?

No brainer 鈥 vodka.

Random comet question: If you could live in any fictional world, what would it be and why?

I’d live in Ankh-Morpork, a fabulous city, on Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. Why? Because it’s a crazy, hilarious place filled with magic. mayhem & wizards.

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

Okay. My latest book, still a work in progress, is called Elawyn鈥檚 Song, book one in The Songstress Trilogy. Basically this is a follow on from The Silver Flute Trilogy. It details the journey of Elawyn, who possess a singing voice so pure, it can cause cities to topple. At the end of the last book of The Silver Flute Trilogy, Elawyn has been contaminated by demon blood and must find a way to cure herself.

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

Reading, writing and eating chocolate.

What 5 things would you miss most about Earth?

The parks around where I live. My brother. My house. My friends. Social media.

What 5 things would you NOT miss about Earth?

The place where I work, although I like the people I work with. All the bloody stupid wars that are going on. Social inequality. Politics. The banking system.

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

The loss of my father.

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

Yes, I think I would. They do say travel broadens the mind and mine鈥檚 on the verge of stagnation at the moment.

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

Your good self, as White Mountain is a wonderfully epic journey of a read. The characters are literally magic, and the illustrations superb. Tricia Drammeh, for the same reason. I鈥檝e read book 1 in her Spellbringers series, Spellbound, an absolutely gripping, paranormal story. Jane Dougherty鈥檚 The Dark Citadel, book 1 of her The Green Woman series. Set in a dystopian world, it鈥檚 a magnificent blend of myth and legend. The Binding, by Sam Dogra. An unusual tale of a girl鈥檚 struggle to lead her own life and the often traumatic journey she takes to try and achieve this. And last, but not least, our dear friend, Lyndsey Parson鈥檚 Vortex, Return of the Effra. A beautiful classic fantasy. The story is split between this world and one filled with fantastical creatures that seize the reader鈥檚 imagination and carry it away into a wonderful blend of war, romance and adventure.

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

I always give the same advice: craft your work until it shines, and most importantly, never give up on your dream. As for readers, if you like a book, leave a review.

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

kjKatrina in her own words…

Well, I鈥檓 a fifty something year old woman. I鈥檓 single and I reside in the city of my birth, Liverpool, and the source of most of my inspiration, along with different types of music. The inspiration for Land of Midnight Days, and subsequently the other two books, came from The Littlewoods building in Liverpool and a Jethro Tull album. I鈥檝e written since I was aged about fourteen and could read before I even started school. I have three books published, by Ecanus Publishing under the Banner heading The Silver Flute Trilogy. The genre is YA urban fantasy and they鈥檙e available from:

Waterstones

Katrina’s Amazon UK Author Page

Katrina’s Amazon US Author Page

Bio:

I began writing many years ago and Land of Midnight Day was my first published work. A few years back I had a bit of a windfall and invested some of it in obtaining a degree in creative writing at Liverpool John Moores University.

Although I primarily write urban fantasy, I also enjoy other genres, such as murder mysteries, romance and biographies. My favourite authors, in the fantasy genre are: Robin Hobb, Jim Butcher, David Gemmell, Jack Vance and many more.

I was born in October 1956, in the wonderful city of Liverpool, at the now demolished hospital known as Sefton General, which was so ill equipped in those days, that my poor mother’s drip was hung from an old broom pole! Talk about the lap of luxury, eh?聽

I still live in Liverpool, in an area rich in public gardens and parks, plus a cemetery and a crematorium – great for inspiration, believe it or not. Included in some of the wonderful historical buildings in the area, is the mansion house known as Allerton Hall, former home of Richard Lathom, who fought as a Royalist during the civil war and is a grade II listed building. It makes a guest appearance in my novel, under a different guise of course.

dawn horizonLatest Book Blurb

Jeremiah has at last reached the end of a long road, which has led him from his native city, into the Gloaming and ended in the Midnight Land itself. Despair, tragedy, and the precious silver flute, have accompanied him every step of the way.

He must now face up to whatever awaits him there – good or bad. No matter what the outcome is, he must close the gates to the Midnight Land and restore freedom to, not only his own world, but all the others weighed down by the oppression of evil.

Will he succeed?

Katrina’s other fabulous books:

midnight 2gloaming 1

***

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

65647-bigthumbnail[1]

Happy Horizons! 馃榾 xx

Distant Worlds – Welcomes Andrea Baker!

This is the fifteenth outing of a new blog series, as I dabble my toes into the mysterious waters 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.

1363546026_best-full-hd-wallpapers-vol.-79-62[1]

The Distant Worlds strand started a few months ago, 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. Check out their cool titles while they鈥檙e still at bargain prices! hyperurl.co/GrimboldBooks聽

10628434_901588523202885_688426025216875644_n[1]

A World Of Their Own 鈥 an awesome anthology of fantasy, sci-fi and literary short stories, with ALL profits going to charity!

But now we鈥檙e branching out and will be zoning in on an extraordinary group of people, The Alliance of Worldbuilders (AWB), who I am also聽VERY proud to call close friends.

The AWB 鈥 a bunch of uber-talented fantasy and sci-fi writers and artists who met on the HarperCollins writing site, Authonomy, back in 2010. We formed The Alliance of Worldbuilders, a friendly, inclusive and wacky group and our collective friendships have seen us through some very hard times, including the sad loss of one of our own, Lindsey J Parsons. In honour of Lindsey, our dear friend who tragically died in January 2014, the AWB have created an awesome anthology of short stories, which was published in glorious paperback and e-book on 4th September 2015! It makes the perfect prezzie and ALL profits go to charity, the World Literacy Fund, fighting illiteracy around the world, so grab a great book聽and help聽a great cause too!聽Amazon UK聽& Amazon US

Right, now to our聽fifteenth聽author interview, and our聽third AWB interview, our very own fantasy castle of paranormal loveliness鈥

Andrea Baker

outer%20space%20planets%20space%20station%20science%20fiction%20asteroids_wallpaperswa.com_8[1]

Andrea, 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?

Oh there are so many unanswered questions about this distant world Sophie, and my first thought was my family, but as I wouldn鈥檛 travel without them they鈥檇 be right there with me! So, all that said…

  1. Water filtration system, with enough spares to keep us going for a while, until we could find suitable clean water to maintain life.
  2. Medical pack, being a practical person, making sure the flint is in there for starting a fire, as the difference between night and day can be hundreds of degrees.
  3. Books 鈥 the whole pod library if I could get it down there, I鈥檇 need something to take my mind away and allow me to dream.
  4. As much food as we could carry, to give us chance to check out the supplies on the planet first, rather than poisoning ourselves on day one.
  5. A communication system, so we can keep track of what is happening on Earth

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

That鈥檚 a difficult one, and some things would be with me anyway, so they don鈥檛 count in the five, do they? I鈥檓 thinking of the rings my husband gave me that I always wear. The others, let鈥檚 see…

  1. My photographs, a reminder of home.
  2. Plenty of notepaper and pens!
  3. My glasses. I normally wear contact lenses, but there would be no point taking those because I鈥檇 never get replacements. I need my glasses though, I鈥檓 very short-sighted without them!
  4. My daughter has made me lots of little 鈥淚 love you鈥 signs over the years, and I鈥檝e kept them all, so I鈥檇 take these.
  5. Music 鈥 I鈥檇 make sure I鈥檇 got some sort of solar-electric power conversion to keep this going. I need music in my life.

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

I wouldn鈥檛 actively seek out others, I鈥檓 quite the introvert, so I鈥檇 stick with the close group I have to be honest. Having said that, I wouldn鈥檛 turn them away if they found us and were friendly.

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

Only 5!!!!!! I鈥檓 not sure I could live with only five of them! Oh well, here goes…

  1. Robin Hobb, probably the Rain Wild Chronicles
  2. Nora Roberts, The Cousin鈥檚 O鈥橠wyer series
  3. Neil Gaiman, Stardust is the one currently closest to me so it would have to be that if we鈥檇 crashed鈥
  4. Phillip Pullman, His Dark Materials
  5. CS Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia

Sorry, I admit they鈥檙e almost all series, so I guess I鈥檝e cheated a little. 馃檪

What 5 songs or albums could you not live without?

Again, with the 5鈥. This is really hard 馃槮

  1. The Muse version of ‘Feeling Good’, I adore it!
  2. Adele, the Album 21
  3. Ed Sheeran, X
  4. Amy Winehouse, Back to Black
  5. REM 鈥 The Best of

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, although I鈥檓 not a heavy drinker of spirits, I don鈥檛 think I鈥檇 want to think too much about my predicament!

Random comet question: Marmite 鈥 love it or loathe it?

Loathe it, completely and utterly!

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

My latest book is too raw to work this one through properly, so I鈥檓 going to focus on the current release, if that鈥檚 ok?

‘Leah鈥檚 nightmares are trying to tell her something, and will stop at nothing. When the dreams don鈥檛 get through, the message becomes physical in her waking life. What will it take for her to realise the truth?’

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

Once my immediate needs are dealt with (food, water, shelter, heat, I would spend my time reading, listening to music, and writing. This is suddenly starting to sound like bliss!

What 5 things would you miss most about Earth?

  1. Companionship from those closest to me, and our dog!
  2. My family, as I know only some of them would have travelled with me, and I鈥檇 miss the others dreadfully (I sound like Lady Mary from Downton Abbey there!). It sounds sentimental, but I鈥檓 close to my family, and being apart from them, unable to speak to them every day would be unbearable.
  3. The beautiful scenery of Scotland, I dream my most vivid stories there.
  4. Independence 鈥 the ability to walk, or jump in my car, and visit wherever I wanted without being restricted.
  5. The smells of home 鈥 Vanilla, my daughter鈥檚 hair when she鈥檚 just washed and dried it, my favourite meal cooking. All the normal things about life I suppose.

What 5 things would you NOT miss about Earth?

  1. Politics! It drives me mad, you have each side accusing the other of manipulating the press, but of course everything that their own side puts out has to be the truth. As Billy Connolly once said, the desire to be a politician should automatically disbar you from ever being able to become one!
  2. Along the same lines, war and terrorism. I have my own belief system, and I know others disagree with that. I understand that is their right and have no intention of trying to 鈥渃onvert鈥 them, or hate them for it. I can鈥檛 understand the desire to kill someone just because they鈥檙e ideas are not the same as your own. Having said that, I do believe that a country has a right to defend itself, and we have a duty to help those that are being victimised.
  3. Pollution 鈥 we鈥檙e slowly killing our planet, whether through fumes or the destruction of war.
  4. Traffic! I spend the best part of two and a half hours a day travelling, and most days am on the road for 06:45 in order to reach my clients at a reasonable time. I hate that this means I miss my daughter getting up in the morning, but it means I鈥檓 home for more hours with her in the evening.
  5. Insects 鈥 I鈥檓 an entomophobic, and am very scared of anything that crawls or flies. Having said that it stands to reason this new planet will be worse, because at least on Earth I recognise some of them鈥

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

That鈥檚 a really hard one, because of the ripple effect. We鈥檝e just had Rememberance Sunday here, and I鈥檇 love to be able to stop so much death and destruction, but as history has proven, there is always going to be someone rising up trying to dominate the rest of the world. Perhaps I鈥檇 go back to the creation of man as we are today (however you believe we got her) and remove the gene that makes people hate one another and want to destroy anyone that disagrees with them! But then, perhaps we wouldn鈥檛 survive as a race then鈥 Maybe I could wipe out the creation of guns and explosives鈥

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

Yes, providing you guaranteed me being able to return home!

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

  1. Will Macmillan Jones, The Banned Underground series, great books, and give you a good laugh too.
  2. Tricia Drammeh, Spellbringers series. It鈥檚 no secret that I love paranormal, and Tricia is brilliant with this series 鈥 I鈥檇 recommend it to everyone, and wish there was more to it!
  3. Lisa L Wiedmeier, The Timeless Series. This is a difficult one to explain. Lisa鈥檚 books appear to be set in the 鈥渞eal鈥 world like my own, but there are significant differences. I love the concept of the Timeless Clans, and the stories that unfold. I鈥檓 a severe sufferer of CATTS (chronic addiction to the timeless series), I admit and can鈥檛 wait for each book to be released.
  4. AFE Smith, Darkhaven. I remember reading some of this when I first joined authonomy, and it hooked me even back then, you know how some snippets of books just stay with you. AFE has polished it and it is now published by Harper Voyager.
  5. It would have to be our very own anthology, A World Of Their Own. What a great way to discover the fantastic group of authors that have contributed to this, and for such fantastic causes too!

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

  • Never let someone tell you that you read too much 鈥 reading is the best way to understand the people and world around you. Personally I think it makes you more tolerant as well.
  • Writers, never give up. It doesn鈥檛 have to be perfection, write your story, that is what is important.

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

12248781_920049701420680_491530867_nAndrea in her own words…

I鈥檝e made up stories for as long as I can remember 鈥 if you think about it we all do as children, in the imaginary worlds we create with our toys. As I got older I would 鈥渓ive鈥 in the world from the latest discovery from the library, making up many 鈥渨hat happened next鈥 stories, and even though I stopped playing, I still lived in those worlds until my late teens.

Once I graduated however I forced myself to stop this, thinking I needed to 鈥済row up鈥, and that is one of my biggest regrets, as I鈥檝e lost so many great ideas as a result.

I read so many books it鈥檚 hard to name inspirations 鈥 at one stage when I was younger I鈥檇 read 12-14 books a week, so to name them all would be impossible. I鈥檓 married, with an eleven year old daughter and a cocker spaniel named Ellie. In real life I鈥檓 a management consultant, specialising in transforming public services, which sounds quite boring doesn鈥檛 it?

Bio:

Andrea Baker was born and raised in the beautiful English county of Warwickshire, where she lived with her parents and older sister. She left home to study at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, from where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science, with honours, in 1992. She now works as an independent management consultant, and lives less than five miles from the town and castle of Kenilworth, in Warwickshire, with her husband and their daughter.

Worlds Apart is a series of romantic fantasy books, the first of which, entitled Leah, was originally released on October 11th 2012. Since January 2014 it has been published by Rose Wall Publishing.

Writing History:聽聽

I have made up, and written, stories for as long as I can remember, even before I could effectively write them down. Rose was a nickname that I had within the family as a child, and as a result, anything that I have written, has the pen name Rose Wall. Other than a few poems in student anthologies, none of my writing has been published.

The idea for Worlds Apart has been in my mind for quite a while now, and I often wrote ideas, and dream sequences down into a notebook. In 2010, I started converting these into a story, and completed almost thirty thousand words whilst still working full time, in a high profile programme run on behalf of the Department for Education.

The Programme was closed at the end of November 2010, and after managing the handover of outstanding matters to the Department for Education, I found myself unemployed in January 2011. During the next four months, while trying to find another job, I used my spare time to continue my writing, and this novel, Worlds Apart: Leah, and the outline for its sequel, is the result.

Waterstones

Amazon UK

Amazon US

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Book Blurb

Worlds Apart: Leah

Nightmares are just dreams, aren鈥檛 they? They cannot hurt you.

It is simply your mind playing tricks…

Or are they?

Leah鈥檚 nightmares are trying to tell her something, something her mind is refusing to let her see.

At nineteen, Leah is still mourning the untimely death of her mother in an accident five years earlier. Her Father decides to move them both to a small Warwickshire town, for a fresh start. But Leah is plagued with terrifying nightmares, that seem to spill into her waking hours, and which somehow bring her comfort as well as fear. Conscious of the warnings in her dreams, and nervous of his growing temper, she deliberately withholds the details of these dreams from her Father.

One morning, Leah sets off up to the Castle, even though her Father would be furious that she had gone there alone. Settling down in her favourite spot, she dozes off in the sunshine, and for the first time experiences a nightmare outside the safety of her home. Disorientated from being awoken mid-dream, she instinctively distrusts the handsome young stranger, Ben, who had awoken her from her dream, yet is strangely attracted to him.

Over the next few weeks the two young people get to know each other better, and Leah finds herself more and more attracted to Ben. Her father finally discovers the relationship when she comes home late one evening. He attacks her, bruising her arm badly.

She fails to hide the injury from Ben the next day, avoiding the subject by questioning him about his music. As a thunder storm erupts they leave the shop at a run, racing together to his car. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a motorcycle skids in the rain, crashing into Leah and sending her flying into a wall.

Her recovery is hampered by her father鈥檚 temper and a break-in at the hospital, but this is tempered with the deepening relationship with Ben. Forced to move in with his family, Leah overhears mysterious conversations, her dreams begin to worsen and violent storms rage as she attempts to piece together the jigsaw of facts as they start to emerge.

A climactic event following a regional talent show final sees both Ben and Leah being severely injured, but they are saved by mysterious creatures. Passing out as a result of her injuries, and her discovery, Leah is transported back to the house, but when she awakes, Ben is missing. Forced into a journey of discovery, she finds hidden, surreal worlds within traditional English settings along with a truth about herself and her past that she can barely allow herself to believe, let alone understand.

***

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

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Happy Horizons! 馃榾 xx