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Showing posts from June, 2014

Character blog-tag

A big thank you to Thaddeus White for handing over to me. Thaddeus is one of the best fantasy writers I know and his knowledge of the genre is used to fantastic comic effect in Sir Edric's Temple, quite simply the funniest fantasy story I've ever read. Here's the link to his blog:

And now to the questions:

1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

Kare Varnon is the heir to a fictional galactic empire. We first meet him as a child and follow his progress through to adulthood.

2) When and where is the story set?

The story is set in the future, in a galactic cluster governed by an Empress. The centre of power, a great city of green surrounded by desert, is called Abendau, and is where Kare was conceived and born, and where he's been running from ever since.

3) What should we know about him/her?

He's the only child of the Empress and should be her assured heir, but his Seer father warn…

Romance is icky. But I like it.

I cheated this week and asked if my fabulous critique partner and writer friend Emma Jane (aka E J Tett) would like to blog about love and romance, and what makes her so good at writing it. And she is good, she has two novels coming out this year: Otherworld with Liz Powell from Torquere press in November and Shuttered in December from Dreamspinner. Em's writing is amazing, I couldn't shout loudly enough to recommend them. And now I'll stop waffling, and hand over to Em:

Romance is Icky. But I like it.

A question I see often on book forums is, "what genres do you read?" and you'll invariably get answers along the lines of, "I'll read anything! Except romance." I can almost hear the sneer through their written words.
It's a weird kind of snobbery. "Oh I don't read romance! Urgh. That's just for the silly wimminz."
But… is it? I'm fairly confident the writer of the most famous love story of all was a man.
Romance novels …

Invoking Ulster

Ulster’s myths are bloody ones. Cu Chulainn, the Hound of Ulster, took the place of a guard dog and defended Ulster at the age of seventeen. He was known to have battle frenzies, and was one of the key legends of the Red Branch Cycle, one of four key Irish folklore cycles. Finn McCool fought the Scottish giant and won using guile and might. Even our flag shows the red hand, from a legend that tells of a race for the land. The losing combatant cut his hand off and threw it onto the land to claim it for himself. The Ulster I know – the North coast facing Scotland, and Belfast – has a harsh accent to go with the legacy of divisions that run as deep as the land its people share.When I had the idea of a novel about Earth resisting an alien invasion, I decided to set it in my Ulster. This was no political undertaking, but instead a wish to show something of the people I knew. The people who, despite all the violence of my youth, maintained a sense of humour – black though it undoubtedly is …

The Master of Time

Like anyone else I struggle to fit writing around life, so I decided to ask John J Brady, one of my brilliant critique partners, for advice. He has a fabulously busy life yet manages to regularly produce fantastic, honed, stories and novels. I'll hand over to John for some practical, motivational - perhaps a little scarily so - advice.

You, too, can master time...

It's taken me two weeks to write these 816 words. Not because I have to search for hours to find each successive key, but because I have to find the time to do it. Take right now, for example. My five-year-old child is furiously colouring in a sheet of paper as if he despises the crayon he's using. Another child is watching the Australian Open men's tennis final. Yet another is playing Minecraft in his room. None of these activities have happened by accident. Rather, they're the product of careful planning, all geared towards getting me ten minutes free to write on my phone because I know there's no …

How I got my agent

I began querying my second completed novel with a good idea of the process - my first novel had got some interest and a few offers from small publishers, but had ended up tied up in an open submissions window - and I was under no illusions how hard getting an agent would be.
The novel had two strong point of views in it - John, a teenager from Belfast, and Henry, the cop who gets tied up in his life - and I decided to market it as cross-over YA/adult.
When I read on Twitter that Molly Ker Hawn, of the Bent Agency, had re-opened to queries I checked her guidelines, which asked that I include why I was the person to tell the story. That opened something untapped within me, about how I'd wanted to capture my native Ulster voices and use them in a mainstream novel, not focused on religion, politics and cliches, but rather on resilience and black humour. I drafted the query without my usual angst and sent it off. A couple of days later Molly requested a full and, after I did a dance, I s…