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 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…  (1947 – 2016) 😦 ❤ 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 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! – see below), Katrina Jack and her New Authors section and Susan Finlay’s Meet the Author to name a few of the best – please check out their wonderful blogs), I’ve always been a little reluctant to throw my hat into the ring…so today I’m a little nervous interviewing ‘Barren Island Books’ interviewer AFE Smith herself!

One of my all-time favourite worldbuilding PC games, is Sid Meier’s ‘Alpha Centauri’. So, in homage to that (and a shameless rip off of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Desert Island Discs’ and AFE Smith’s brilliant blog series Barren Island Books), here is my own author interview series – 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 and Tenebris Books – a bunch of uber-talented and whacky characters who I am also proud to call friends. Check out their cool titles while they’re still at bargain prices! hyperurl.co/GrimboldBooks 

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

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

The AWB – 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 and help a great cause too! Amazon UK & Amazon US

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

AFE Smith

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AFE, YOU find yourself cast adrift in deep space, your colony pod’s life support is failing, your only chance of survival is a distant habitable world…

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 … 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…do 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 – screw up and he’ll eat your brains! Go! 

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

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

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 – 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 – and why?

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

Evangeline Jennings – 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 – fascinating, myth-drenched Gothic fantasy that blends darkness and light to great effect.

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

W.R. Gingell – 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 … 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 … 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’t 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 – getting to bed without waking the baby is like crossing a nightingale floor. Though she doesn’t have much spare time, she makes space for reading, mainly by not getting enough sleep (she’s powered by chocolate). Her physical bookshelves were stacked two deep long ago, so now she’s 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’t inherited the family’s ability to shapeshift, so their father, Florentyn, forces Ayla to take over as heir to the throne.

When Ayla is accused of Florentyn’s 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) Waterstones Barnes & Noble Google play iBooks Kobo

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

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GOLDENFIRE preorder links

HarperCollins Amazon Barnes & Noble Google play iBooks Kobo

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Thank you, AFE. Congratulations, you are survivor! A passing Illyrian mining vessel has honed in on your distress beacon, you’re going home!!!

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Happy Horizons! 😀 xx

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Distant Worlds – Welcomes Katie Alford!

This is the sixth post of a brand new blog series, as I dip 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 and Susan Finlay’s Meet the Author to name a few of the best – please check out their wonderful blogs), I’ve 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’s ‘Alpha Centauri’. So, in homage to that (and a shameless rip off of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Desert Island Discs’ and AFE Smith’s brilliant blog series Barren Island Books), here is my own author interview series – Distant Worlds.

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

Grimbold Books were also doing a fabulous ‘Summer Promotion’ from 31st July – 4th August, where ALL of its wonderful titles were priced at only 99p/99c across Amazon platforms. Now, although the promotion is now over, check out their titles to still grab a great bargain before the prices go back to normal! Awesome fiction at awesome prices!!!!

hyperurl.co/GrimboldBooks

Right, now to our sixth author interview…the cosmically awesome and talented…

Katie Alford

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Katie, YOU find yourself cast adrift in deep space, your colony pod’s life support is failing, your only chance of survival is a distant habitable world…

What 5 essentials would you choose to help you survive?

A hunting rifle, although I probably wouldn’t hit anything with it. A lighter, a must for lighting fires to cook the beasts caught with the rifle. A homing beacon, how else will I eventually get rescued? An axe, to chop down trees and make a shelter/ fence to keep away any savage alien beasts. Rope, to tie the shelter together. We’ve all learnt from poor Eeyore that just piling logs together never ends well.

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

My chocolate stash – It would probably feed me for a month. My laptop – Can’t live without that. A solar powered charger for said laptop, otherwise it wouldn’t last long. My phone, I have a number of unread e books on it which should keep my entertained until rescue. My teddy bear, because I’ve had her since I was born and would hate for her to go up in flames. Plus, should I be attacked by a savage alien beast I could use her as bait, sneak around behind said beast and blast its head off.

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

Depends how attractive they are. A little eye candy would make being marooned more bearable.

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

  1. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Oh, damn it! I forgot my towel.The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkozski. I’ve got no interesting excuse for this one.
  2. The thickest Twilight book, because I’ll be needing something to light the fire with.
  3. One of the Disc World novels. I can’t choose a favourite that would damn my soul forever. I’d grab whichever one is closest to hand.
  4. The Day of the Triffids, because after rereading that book my situation wouldn’t seem so bad.

What 5 songs or albums could you not live without?

  1. Queen’s Greatest Hits, so I can rock out the new world.
  2. The Heart of Everything by Within Temptation
  3. Cult by Apocalyptica
  4. Dark Passion Play by Nightwish
  5. The Macarena, because it would be fun to teach the dance to the native inhabitants and then upload the video to you tube when I get back, because let’s face it, aliens dancing the Macarena is sure to go viral.

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

Coco-cola because caffeine is a necessity for a writer. I couldn’t possibly live without it.

Random comet question: Bella or Katniss?

Who is Bella and Katniss? Are they going to eat me for not knowing?

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 – screw up and he’ll eat your brains! Go!

It’s a tale of two great powers in time: Atlantis with their academics and time conservation teams and the Norse, a new rising power. The Norse’s emergence sends technological ripples out through the time steam, disturbing its peaceful waters and diverting the flow through some of the most pivotal moments in history.  After decades of quiet time watching, the Atlanteans are caught off guard by the violent changes surging down the time stream, threatening to destroy all known civilisations, even that of Atlantis itself. The Atlanteans soon find themselves battling not just to save the world but also its history. Yes, I was sad enough to make it exactly 100 words…

What 5 things would you miss most about Earth?

Fast food outlets, I don’t think they deliver to deep space. Google Maps, very useful in avoiding getting lost. Steam Store, how am I supposed to buy new games without it? Computer repair shop, when I inevitable drop my laptop into viscous goo and realise there’s nowhere to get it fixed in deep space. The super market, because hunting beasts to live is hard work.

What 5 things would you NOT miss about Earth?

Cold callers – Haha! Can’t get me here! Party political broadcasts, if I want to indulge in a blatant work of fiction I’ll watch a film. Apple products – IPhones and IPads should all be shot into the nearest black hole. Frozen, because nearly every post on my facebook page mentions it and I don’t have children so I should be sheltered from it.

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

I would go back in time and tell myself to pick up my Magic the Gathering decks as well before jumping into the life pod.

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

Depends how attractive the aliens are really.

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

Well there are my favourite two Kristell Ink Books, In Search of Gods and Heroes By Sammy HK Smith and Darkspire Reaches by CN Lesley.

Terry K Simpson has written many fine books including his The Quintessence Cycle Series. How he manages to churn so many out, I’ve yet to discover.

Kat Hawthorne is a very talented writer and has had both novels and a number of short stories published. Her website also looks fantastic.

And last but not least, the latest Kristell Ink release Green Sky and Sparks by Kate Coe. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m sure it’s fantastic.

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

Just because everyone else has read a certain book, it doesn’t mean you have to read it too.

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

PhotoKMAlford2Katie Alford in her own words…

I write fantasy Sci-Fi and Steampunk and love playing computer games, strictly for inspirational purposes of course. I’m also a Digital Artist and create both 2D and 3D Computer Generated art. I even modelled and animated my own book trailer found here: Book Trailer

My publisher is Grimbold Books which have published many exceptionally good titles. You can browse them right here: Grimbold Books

Bio:

Katie was born in London and raised in Bristol. After a number of years in Middlesbrough, where she gained three degrees in 3d modelling and digital art subjects, she moved back to London, where she currently resides.

She loves playing computer games, watching anime and art and writing. She is a member of both the Kingswood Writers Group and the Greenacre Writers Group, who run the annual Finchley Literary Festival. She is really good at starting novels but not so good at finishing them, with her in progress works now into double figures.

As a day job, she works as an admin assistant which gives her many boring hours to contemplate her evening’s writing. She has won a number of short story competitions but recently realised it was taking precious time away from her novel writing and so stopped entering them, but she does now sometimes judge them instead.

The current genres she has written works in include fantasy, sci fi, steampunk, dark fantasy, folklore and detective and she has recently dabbled a bit in poetry, she is not intending to take that any further, it just seemed a good idea at the time.

Amazon UK

Amazon US

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Latest Book Blurb:

For over a hundred years Atlantis, a culture of academics, has ruled the flow of time. It’s only travellers, they sought to conserve its flow and research and document the many cultures that span it. During that time, the only ripples threatening disturbance were the mischievous pranks of a few rebellious teenagers. In particular, those of a Hayden Edward Lywen whose constant pranks kept the Department of Time Conservation or DTC in high anxiety as their overworked operative Professor Lokyne was forced to run back and forth through time, restoring the timeline again and again.

Tired and rundown by the constant battle with his students, little did Lokyne know that he would soon be yearning the simplicity of dealing with rowdy teenagers. As a threat soon emerged far beyond those he’d dealt with before; a threat that would rewrite the whole of known history and plunge Atlantis into a war for which they were ill equipped and inexperienced. Can Atlantis find a way to fight back in time to stop their own culture being wiped from history, or is a new era dawning, as all cultures will eventually come to an end?

***

Oh look, is that a rescue ship I see? I hope it reaches me before that pack of vicious, alien wildlife catches up with me. I guess I ate too many of their friends.

Lol, thank you, Katie. Yes, congratulations, you are survivor! A passing medical frigate has honed in on your distress beacon, you’re going home!!!

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Happy Horizons! 😀 xx

Distant Worlds – Welcomes Steven Poore!

This is the second of a brand new blog series, as I dip my toes into the mysterious waters of author interviews.

Having watched so many fantastic interviewers (Tricia Drammeh and her Authors to Watch series, AFE Smith (see below), Katrina Jack and her New Authors section and Susan Finlay’s Meet the Author series to name a few of the best – please check out their wonderful blogs), I’ve 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’s ‘Alpha Centauri’. So, in homage to that (and a shameless rip off of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Desert Island Discs’ and AFE Smith’s brilliant blog series Barren Island Books), here is my own author interview series – Distant Worlds.

slide_340827_3509310_free[1]

To continue the Distant Worlds strand, over the next few weeks I will be focusing on fellow fantasy and sci-fi authors from ultra-cool UK publishing house, Grimbold Books and their imprints, Kristell Ink and Tenebris Books – a bunch of uber talented and whacky characters who I am also proud to call friends. Grimbold Books are also doing a fabulous ‘Summer Promotion’ from 31st July – 4th August, where ALL of its wonderful titles will be priced at only 79p/99c across Amazon platforms. Check it out guys, awesome fiction at awesome prices!!!

hyperurl.co/GrimboldBooks 

Right, now to our second author interview…the fantastic…

Steven Poore

Digital-Universe-Planets-Fantasy-Space-Wallpaper-HD-Desktop-Free-Download-9899308945[1]

Steven, YOU find yourself cast adrift in deep space, your colony pod’s life support is failing, your only chance of survival is a distant habitable world…

What 5 essentials would you choose to help you survive?

Swiss army knife, one of those tents that spring up straight from the bag, jar of Marmite, and notebook and pen. You won’t get anywhere without a to-do list…

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

To be honest, I’d probably end up burning to death before I managed to make any sort of decision. As long as I’ve got the ipod, Kobo, wind-up charger, and the cat, I think I’m sorted.

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

Friendly aliens? That never ends well…

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

  • The Martian (Andy Weir) would be an obvious choice, but I’d go more for The Barbed Coil (JV Jones).
  • Lord of the Rings (yep, him).
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (Susannah Clarke) because I’d actually have time to read it.
  • Dune (Frank Herbert) for a laugh.
  • …and either Wyrd Sisters or Guards! Guards! (Pratchett, of course).

What 5 songs or albums could you not live without?

  • Brave by Marillion.
  • Kind of Blue by Miles Davis.
  • Disintegration by The Cure.
  • The Inception soundtrack by Hans Zimmer.
  • …and The Stone Roses.

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

I have previous with vodka, so I’d prefer a self-replenishing supply of the Thornbridge Brewery’s wonderful Jaipur IPA (*dry cough*).

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

Oh, love it – the yeast must flow…!

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 – screw up and he’ll eat your brains! Go!

Storyteller’s daughter Cassia joins a quest to resurrect the power of an ancient Northern kingdom, hoping to become a famous storyteller herself. But her new companions haven’t told her the truth, and the curse wards around the kingdom really should never be broken, and… my, those are really big teeth… and if she isn’t careful then Cassia is going to make a very big mistake. You look hungry. Marmite on toast?

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

Trying to find the cat, with my luck…

What 5 things would you miss most about Earth?

Roast potatoes, bacon, conventions, narrowboats, and Marmite.

What 5 things would you NOT miss about Earth?

Conservatives, West Bromwich Albion, ITV Be, Sad/Rabid/Vichy Puppies, and that stupid fashion of wearing your jeans below your arse.

Time-traveller questions (for Dr. Who fans): If you had the chance again to go on this deep space adventure, would you take it? What is the one thing you wish you could turn back time and change?

Yes, so I could have another chance to turn back time and change the fact that I hadn’t gone on this deep space adventure, otherwise all my chances to turn back time and change things would never have happened! (Possibly)

What 5 indie authors and books you would recommend to any carbon based lifeform – and why? (ahem…Steven chose more than 5, but hey, they’re GREAT choices!)

Jo Thomas – 25 Ways To Kill a Werewolf (Fox Spirit Books). Inventive and very comprehensive. Ian Sales – Adrift on the Sea of Rains (Whippleshield Books). Claustrophobic alt-history. It won a BSFA Award for a reason. KT Davies – Breed (Fox Spirit Books). Sweary and brilliant. Andrew David Barker – The Electric (Boo Books). Like a Midlands Bradbury. Andrew Reid – Kingdom’s Fall (Wattpad). Episodic epic fantasy from a constantly epic chap. David R Lee – The Road To Thule (via Amazon). I’m cheating – intense post-apocalyptic techno-heathenry from a fellow Sheffield writer.

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

Will Wheaton said it best: don’t be a dick.

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

GetAttachment[1] (3)Steven Poore in his own words…

I’m an Epic Fantasist and SFSF Socialist! Heir to the North is the first part of Malessar’s Curse, and will be followed by The High King’s Vengeance next year, both released by Kristell Ink. I’m also working on a fantasy set on a narrowboat. Some of my short stories will be featured in forthcoming Pocket anthologies from Fox Spirit Books. I live in Sheffield with my partner, an artist and crafter. We have a three-legged cat and an ever-increasing mass of books.

If you want to know more about me, you can find me on Twitter@stevenjpoore, and on the net at stevenpoore.wordpress.com. If you’d like to know more about the SFSF Social Club, that’s on Twitter too, @SFSFSocial, and online at sfsfsocial.wordpress.com.

10382072_10155105102395375_5143104779488378448_o[1]Blurb:

The North Will Rise Again

The Warlock Malessar destroyed Caenthell centuries ago, murdering theHigh King Jedrell and his bride, and cursing the land itself. Since that time, the mountain kingdom has become little more than a dark legend, and the bloodline of the High Kings has been lost.

Until now.

Old soldier Baum and heroic warrior Meredith seek to defeat Malessar and his foul curse. Conscripted into their quest, young Cassia quickly realises she could make her name as a storyteller by witnessing such an epic confrontation. But neither of her companions are quite as they appear, and the truth lies deep within stories Cassia has not yet heard.

By the time she discovers that both Baum and the Warlock have hidden devastating secrets from each other for centuries, it may be too late. Cassia must decide which side she will stand upon and for whom she will fight – for Malessar, or for The Heir To The North.

***

Thank you. Congratulations, Steven, you are survivor! A passing deep space explorer has honed in on your distress beacon, you’re going home!!!

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Happy Horizons! 😀 xx

Distant Worlds – Welcomes Kate Coe!

Drum roll please…

This is a VERY exciting blog post as it heralds the beginning of a brand new blog series – as I dip my toes for the first time into the mysterious waters of author interviews.

Having watched so many fantastic interviewers (Tricia Drammeh and her Authors to Watch series, AFE Smith (see below), Katrina Jack and her New Authors section and Susan Finlay’sMeet the Author‘ series to name a few of the best – please check out their wonderful blogs), I’ve 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’s ‘Alpha Centauri’. So, in homage to that (and a shameless rip off of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Desert Island Discs’ and AFE Smith’s brilliant blog series Barren Island Books), here is my own author interview series – Distant Worlds.

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To kick off the Distant Worlds strand, over the next few weeks I will be focusing on fellow fantasy and sci-fi authors from ultra-cool UK publishing house, Grimbold Books and their imprints, Kristell Ink and Tenebris Books – a bunch of uber talented and whacky characters who I am also proud to call friends. Grimbold Books are also doing a fabulous ‘Summer Promotion’ from 31st July – 4th August, where ALL of its wonderful titles will be priced at only 79p/99c across Amazon platforms. Check it out guys, awesome fiction at awesome prices!!!!

hyperurl.co/GrimboldBooks

Right, now to our very first author…the awesome…

Kate Coe

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Kate, YOU find yourself cast adrift in deep space, your colony pod’s life support is failing, your only chance of survival is a distant habitable world…

What 5 essentials would you choose to help you survive?

Water purification tablets, some kind of shelter (a sleeping bag if not a tent), some kind of emergency ration bars, a knife and some duct tape – yes, I live with an engineer!

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

I would say my laptop but only if it had some sort of portable power source! Let’s go with a notebook and pen, books (multiple books count as one item, right?), my favourite jumper, and probably my two cats as they’re daft enough to not jump out when the ship crashes.

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

Definitely seek help – who knows what you might find out there?

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

  • China Mieville’s The Scar. I took this travelling round the world with me, and it kept me going for three months – it’s readable and re-readable and read-again-able!
  • Gaiman & Pratchett’s Good Omens, because the humour always makes me laugh, and it’s a fun read.
  • Diane Wynne Jones’ Deep Secret. I love the characters and the world she’s created, and it makes me smile – “Eyenose cuzidin lyebeans” is possibly my favourite phrase ever!
  • Frank Herbert’s Dune. I love the universe, the hints of politics and meanings and plotlines that aren’t explored, the people and worlds created that are so alien yet so realised. It’s something I have read multiple times and can always pick up again
  • And finally, one new book! The next in my TBR pile is The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, so I’d probably take that as something new to keep me occupied.

What 5 songs or albums could you not live without?

  • Skylarking by BT; it always makes me smile
  • The Joshua Tree album by U2 – an old favourite.
  • Pachabel’s Canon – also an old favourite. It sent shivers down my spine the first time I heard it as a child, and it’s always been something special for me.
  • Send Me On My Way by Rusted Root; it was nearly the first dance at my wedding but it has a lot of good memories, and always makes me want to dance.
  • And whatever I’m currently writing to. At the moment it’s Forget It by Breaking Benjamin but it tends to change by the day.

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

I’d love to choose vodka, but the hangover ain’t worth it…let’s stick with water.

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

Sort of meh, actually – it’s ok but I can usually find something nicer to eat.

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 – screw up and he’ll eat your brains! Go!

Catter’s trying to find a legend, and when the Lord-turned-inventor Toru Idalin offers to take him up in his flying machine, he thinks it will solve his quest. But their crash in the mountains is only the start of Catter’s problems, and Toru’s soul-bond to a dying Healer creates even more trouble…

The book is the first in a world of magic that’s just discovering technology, and the changes that electricity, flight and communication bring to the characters and their lives. The series follows a range of people across multiple lands as they adapt, grow, love, grieve and fly.

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

I’d probably flit between reading, writing and exploring.

What 5 things would you miss most about Earth?

The changing skies, my friends, a reliable source of power for my laptop, the availability of multiple books, and chocolate.

What 5 things would you NOT miss about Earth?

People, the dark underbelly of the Interwebz, the irritating weather, having a job (more writing time! Wooh!) and having a building site next door.

Time-traveller questions (for Dr. Who fans): What is the one thing you wish you could turn back time and change? If you had the chance again to go on this deep space adventure, would you take it?

Not a Dr Who fan, unfortunately…but I’m always up for an adventure.

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

Brave New Girls by Mary Fan & Paige Daniels (eds) – a wonderful collection of stories.

I really like Fox Spirits (publisher) – I’m currently working my way through their publishing list! They always have something interesting and some very good writing.

Vermillion by Molly Tanzer – very good writing and an entertaining story.

If you like Steampunk, Tales from the Scriptorian Vaults is a brilliant collection.

And I’m going to have to give a shout-out to Grimbold Books, and particularly a new book by Kate Coe…

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

Write and read what you love, make sure your oxygen tank’s full and working before you step out of the spaceship, and don’t eat the green wobbly bit.

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

I’m an accidental librarian, DIY enthusiast and write when the cats give me a moment. My inspirations…Terry Pratchett, China Mieville, the sky on a windy day, Redwood trees, anyone and everyone I meet, my oldest friend, Renaissance technology, clockwork…anything and everything, really!

My publishers are the awesome Grimbold Books, with a range that includes fantasy, sci-fi, steampunk, dark fiction and anthologies (about cats, too!). Check out their range at http://www.grimboldbooks.com.

***

GetAttachment[1]Kate Coe in her own words…

I’m a librarian with a background in classics and law, I live with an engineer and very grumpy bearded dragon, and I fill my spare time in between writing with web design, geeky cross-stitch and DIY (which may or may not involve destroying things). My favourite character is a sloth with a speed addiction, my best writing moment was when one of my characters fell in love and completely changed the plot, and I write because I can’t imagine not doing it – and it gets the voices out of my head for five minutes…

Kate’s Links – the best place to find out more about Kate and her wonderful writing!

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Kristell Ink

Green-Sky-Final-Front-1Blurb:

In a world of magic, wind, and electricity, Catter Jeck is offered the chance to explore a myth. Travelling from city to city, his search for the centre of the magic catches others in its coils. When the Lord Heir of Meton offers to continue the search in his flying machine, the consequences of their crash—and Toru’s accidental link to a dying Healer—suddenly become of central importance to all of their lives.

If you haven’t grabbed yourself a copy already, I can highly recommend Kate Coe’s new novel, Green Sky & Sparks. A beautifully written and brilliantly original read! 😀

Thank you, Kate and congratulations, you are survivor! A passing freighter has honed in on your distress beacon, you’re going home!!!

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Happy Horizons! 😀 xx

Make Hay not war! …A tribute to Hay, Ray and Sir Terry!

I wrote this post two years ago, but it is particularly poignant today, given the tragic news that Sir Terry Pratchett has lost his long fight with Alzheimer’s. He was a colossus of the fantasy genre and one of our brightest literary lights. He will be sadly missed by those who knew him and the millions of fans worldwide that wish they did. RIP Terry, you’re one in a billion! 😦 xxxx

Sophie E Tallis - Author/Illustrator

I’ll admit that my expectations of the Hay Festival were high…and I was NOT disappointed!

Returning home last night, at nearly 11pm, utterly exhausted and elated with a boot full of books, I found myself in a blissful state of delirium. What an experience! Not just the festival itself, with its Tibetan-like rainbow flags (perhaps fluttering in homage to the God of Books), its eco credentials and bohemian artsy feel, but the whole town and how each compliments the other. The entire vibe of the place…this little idyll, this heaven for book lovers nestled amongst the most breathtaking landscapes. Just bliss!

In a time of grim realities, economic meltdown, political confusion, conflict and war, to be immersed in such a haven is nothing short of magical. There are so few places where the written word is so celebrated. The minute my writer friend and I stepped foot in the town, you could almost feel…

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Make Hay not war! …A tribute to Hay, Ray and Sir Terry!

I’ll admit that my expectations of the Hay Festival were high…and I was NOT disappointed!

Returning home last night, at nearly 11pm, utterly exhausted and elated with a boot full of books, I found myself in a blissful state of delirium. What an experience! Not just the festival itself, with its Tibetan-like rainbow flags (perhaps fluttering in homage to the God of Books), its eco credentials and bohemian artsy feel, but the whole town and how each compliments the other. The entire vibe of the place…this little idyll, this heaven for book lovers nestled amongst the most breathtaking landscapes. Just bliss!

In a time of grim realities, economic meltdown, political confusion, conflict and war, to be immersed in such a haven is nothing short of magical. There are so few places where the written word is so celebrated. The minute my writer friend and I stepped foot in the town, you could almost feel a palpable tingle in the air. Everyone was there for the same reason…an unbridled love of books.

The rain, thankfully not as heavy as predicted, couldn’t dampen our spirits. So with twitching debit cards we started our foray into Hay’s wonderfully eclectic bookshops.

My advice for any visiting Hay-On-Wye? Bring a backpack…you can squeeze more books into it and leave your hands free to hold more!

Heading from one bookshop to another, via a cappuccino and slice of coffee cake, my growing rucksack and I quickly learned the ‘squeeze-squeeze-side shuffle’ needed in tight spaces and stacked shelves.

Amongst my prized buys of the day – a beautiful first edition 1866 green leather-bound collection of Lord Tennyson poems with gold-edged hand cut pages, gold ‘Arts & Crafts’ embossing on the front and back AND…(discovered only this morning as I took delight in placing all my books on the correct bookcases)…gorgeous illustrations by Hunt, Millais & Gabriel Dante Rossetti, the founders and geniuses of the Pre-Raphaelite Movement!

Wow! I can’t believe I’ve found such a treat for the senses for a mere £6.50! What a find…now you don’t get that from a kindle!

My other highlight? Well, after some serious trawling round Hay, we headed back to the festival and its billowing tents for the main event, an hour-long talk from Sir Terry Pratchett! What a thrill! We jostled our way into the Barclays Pavillion and settled down to watch and listen to a master of the fantasy genre. A real privilege.

Terry spoke candidly about his work and life. Poignant but always humourous and sharply witted, the hour regrettably flew past, despite the continuous munching of the man mountain sitting in front of me and the irritating fidgeting of the teeny girls next to me whose constant moving kept rocking my chair and making me sea-sick!

Of course, during the course of day, the news also broke of the sad passing of another great author, the astonishing Ray Bradbury, whose seminal novels including Fahrenheit 451, have been incredibly influential and inspiring to readers and writers alike. Terry Pratchett himself commented on the sad event, saying what a wonderful writer and what a lovely person he was.

Together with the loss of Anne McCaffrey earlier in the year, it has been a time of literary loss, particularly in the fantasy and science fiction genres, but the legacy such writers and their astonishing body of work leaves behind, ensures their immortality in the pantheon of great writers and artists.

After the fabulous talk, we inevitably took the shuttle back into town for some more book grazing. Hay, rather splendidly, leaves many of the bookshops open into the evening.

We wandered over to the castle, a beautiful ruin of a place, and poured over yet more shelves of delights before reluctantly having to say goodbye to a truly wondrous little place.

May the sun never set on you Hay. I shall definitely be returning for a longer stay!

I raise a glass to the glory of Hay, Ray and Sir Terry…marvels all!

See you next year! 😀

****

Tragically, Sir Terry Pratchett lost his long struggle against Alzheimer’s on the 12th March 2015, he will be greatly missed by all. I for one, shall think of him when I visit the Hay Festival again this year. A literary giant in his own life time, one of our brightest lights has been extinguished, may he shine on in the heavens and give Death a run for his money! xxx

😦

Make Hay while the sun…er…shines?

After visiting the beautiful town of Hay-On-Wye on the Herefordshire/Welsh border for many years, I am eventually visiting this little book idyll during the festival itself!

My idea of heaven…nothing but wall to wall books and people who love them!

The Hay Festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, an ideal time for my first visit.

Of course, I’d LOVE to have stayed for the entire duration, to immerse myself in the culture of it, the thrill of like-minded ‘lovers of the written word’…but unfortunately reality bites, i.e. a full-time job with heavy workloads and a serious lack of accommodation. Those going know all too well, that if you haven’t booked your accommodation by the end of January, you’re sleeping in your car!

But, none of that matters…I’m going and I’m thrilled! Along with a fellow writer friend of mine, we’ll be soaking up the atmosphere, trawling through every bookshop and generally drifting round in a halcyon state of bliss, come rain or shine.

Then…drum roll please…we’ve got tickets to see Terry Pratchett! SO excited to see the great man. Whether you are a fan of the fantasy genre, comedic novels or of Terry Pratchett himself, none can deny the sheer creative genius and inventiveness of the guy! Should be an excellent talk and a wonderful day! Can’t wait… 😀

Here’s a little ditty about the great festival:

Hay Festival founder Peter Florence remembers 25 years of what Bill Clinton called “the Woodstock of the mind”

In a digital world, it seems more important than ever to be together: there’s nothing quite like the intimate contact of face-to-face conversation. In a way, Hay (and the festival, in particular) is like a physical manifestation of the internet. There are untold miles of second-hand books that hold browsable stories; thousands of old – and potentially new – friends in a real social network, all sharing their love of books and music; and people from all over the world discussing ideas. The big plusses are great food, spectacular landscape and the pleasures of mind and flesh.

There have been incredible moments: Van Morrison’s legendary five-hour gig in 2001; Ted Hughes reading against a storm in a tent that almost left the ground; Maya Angelou summoning a rainbow over the Wye through sheer force of poetry; the crowd roaring their love for Desmond Tutu and Wangari Maathai; and the opportunity to talk over many years and on four continents to my activist hero Bob Geldof. But the abiding memory is the pleasure of seeing friends year on year, the coming together bit of festivals that is so magical.

Thank you again to Beattie’s Book Blog for this.

Hay…here I come! 😀