Thought you folks might enjoy this- a breakdown of how the wonderful Phanuchanat Chareonsap and I put together the cover for The Clouds of Escalion. It’s been about six months since the second book launched, and I’m still overawed by the cover sometimes.
Here is our process- from tiny thumbnail in my omnipresent notebook to loose sketches and eventually final painting. Slightly attached to that notebook- in addition to the cover sketches for Escalion, it also contains pages and pages of notes from editing Children of the Crater in 2013, the as yet unreleased Tales from Aquis and a whole host of other illustrations.
Hey there folks, some good news!
A short story of mine, The Last Echo is going to be included in the second issue of Ohio based sci-fi magazine JAMM (Just a Minor Malfunction). Over the last few weeks I’ve been tweaking the text, and my it packs a punch. The Last Echo has never been publicly released, until now.
JAMM #1 (left) launched back in May with contributions from a dozen authors, so I’m proud to be included in the second issue. #2 should be hitting shelves in November, I’ll keep you posted with more info as we roll forwards on that one. Keep an eye on the Indiegogo for the second issue over here as other authors are announced for the volume.
So, I recently finished reading The Way of Kings (2010) and Words of Radiance (2014), the first two books of what will be a much longer series when completed. The Stormlight Archive is an epic fantasy series from prolific author Brandon Sanderson, a writer I admire somewhat for his detailed magic systems and mechanics.
Much of the books deal with a war taking place on the Shattered Plains, a huge battlefield crisscrossed with huge stone chasms. With armies marching from plateau to plateau over bridges, it leads to some really interesting tactics coming into the fore. Throw into the mix a small number of weapons known as shardblades- capable of cutting through anything, even the soul- and we have a potent cocktail of warfare.
Stormlight is a rich, detailed world, with plenty of factions, political wrangling and military action. I almost consider this series to be Sanderson’s answer to The Wheel of Time, that 80-million-copies epic of Robert Jordan. Sanderson completed the series after Jordan’s untimely passing, based on the notes of the late author- and I feel that Sanderson’s already potent skill has grown for doing so. Here we have a lengthy series so thoroughly fleshed out that it’s in danger of rearing up and attacking the reader- well worth a look into.
I’ll be doing a few more of these review sections as we move forwards, so as always, keep your eyes peeled. Not literally though. Put the peeler down. PUT IT DOWN.
It’s that time again. Recently got a new job teaching games design in Southampton, so it’s time to pack up all the gore and viscera that plaster our walls and get them into a moving van. A stressful affair perhaps, but I am looking forward to our new house. We’ve the money now to go for a bit of an upgrade, so we will actually have a dedicated office room- all the more space for creating that dastardly content you love.
Hey there folks, a quick update on my progress with Tales from Aquis.
Writing work on the project has accelerated over the past few months. Seeing as this book will be a little longer than the others I have mentally split it into three ‘Acts’, of which the first one is already complete. The last few weeks have seen me build up my plans for the next two acts, writing detailed chapter breakdowns ahead of the main writing pass. With Aquis I’m going to be juggling a lot more in the way of characters and intrigue, so it should be a wonderful read when complete. I first started this project in 2012 when Children of the Crater was still only halfway written, and so it has about four years of world-building thought going into it.
While writing, I never really erase anything in its entirety- If a section needs to be taken out I generally save it in a separate document of deleted scenes. Sometimes they get worked in or salvaged later, but many do not.
The Clouds of Escalion has over 8,000 words of deleted scenes that popped up in that way- including an entirely different opening chapter. The book went through a lot of restructuring in the early days of writing, and sometimes I would remove entire pages of text if I found a better way of working through a scene.
While writing Tales from Aquis, I had a look back through the deleted scenes archive as I was in there anyway- and thought I would share the following snippet of Fenrir and Bragi discussing the longhouse.
“I never did tell you what my ability was, did I Fenrir?”
He paused for a moment, lighting a long pipe that emerged from a small chest in the corner.
“The longhouse and I are connected in a way that defies explanation. While one of us exists, the other cannot die. If you burned this building to the ground right now another would take its place, so long as I lived. Likewise, I cannot die while this building holds together. The moment those men destroyed the longhouse, I felt drawn to this place, as I do whenever I leave. The impulsion is strong; I am shackled here more strongly than you can imagine.”
Incidentally, chapter six of Tales from Aquis is now complete. The manuscript is already approaching the 25,000 word mark; it’s been quite the train ride.
A new render of Odin’s statue. I’ve been brushing up my portfolio a bit, and shiny new renders were in order. He looks unwaveringly badass in this one.
My time seems to all go into writing and 3D artwork these days; and what a lot of it I have been working on. Tales from Aquis might well end up being my longest novel yet. I’m aiming for about 100,000 words, if I have my way.
Writing progress on that has accelerated recently; I’ve been carving through the sixth chapter with my eyes already on the seventh.
New announcements are inbound, as always- keep your ears peeled and your eyes bloody.
Researching my books often leads me to strange places, but none quite this strange so far. As you may already know, Tales from Aquis will be set in a city at the bottom of the ocean, and the question of how the city can grow food came to mind.
Turns out there already is an Italian venture on that very front, growing food in pressurised capsules under the sea. Nemo’s Garden is a project to create a means of sustainable farming, which could potentially be of use in areas that lack fresh water sources. By managing an elevated level of carbon dioxide, they are actually able to accelerate plant growth. I love reasearching this sort of thing, as the harsh underwater environment of Aquis will surely have an impact on the city’s food source, energy, and just about every aspect of daily life
What kind of fish could you catch that deep in the ocean? What crops would be best for growing under those conditions? I’ve already had to work out how one would make alcohol down there, having settled on a drink called coyol that could be produced from the sap of palm trees. I always find that it is these sorts of details that help bring a fantasy world to life.
You heard that right. I recently returned from the event Magic Oxygen Publishing were doing, and it is glorious to hold a physical copy of my second book in my hands. The talk I gave, along with my wonderful editor Izzy Robertson at the event, was recorded and with luck I will be posting a link to that in a few days.
The Clouds of Escalion is now available. That’s right, there are two books with my name on them sitting on store shelves.
The hilarious thing about such events is that I leave them so energised for writing the next book that I am trapped in an eternal loop, continuing to write until I die, or mankind runs out of resources, or all the stars go out. Oh well, I can at least enjoy the ride. Go find the book, give it a whirl, and please remember to maintain regular breathing throughout. Human bodies generally need that oxygen thing to survive, and I don’t want anyone passing out and dying before the finale. That would be sub-optimal.
Book launch is almost upon us, folks. On launch day for The Clouds of Escalion, I will be at the Magic Oxygen Literary Prize in Lyme Regis. As well as having a stall and generally being around for book signings and light conversation, I will be on stage for a talk-
The Adventures of an Author and Editor: How to Breathe Convincing Life into a Dystopian Sci-fi Adventure
3.00-3-15pm, Saturday 26th of March 2016
Woodmead Halls – Hill Road, Lyme Regis DT7 3PG, United Kingdom
More information about the event, which is free by the way, is over here
. The event will be livestreamed for those in more distant regions of the world, so keep an eye on the link above for a link on the day. This marks my second public appearance as an author, so sort of a big deal. I hope to see some of you there!