Last blog post until Frostfire’s November 1st release! Time flies, and hopefully the books will too. Unless of course you prefer the eBook version, which is now available to pre-order here.
Of course, I get to be a proper author even sooner than that – in a matter of weeks I’ll be doing my first school event at my old primary, which ought to be somewhere between strange and fun. There should be plenty more events to come, and maybe one or two interesting surprises I can share soon, if plans work out.
Before I get deep into the publicity process though, I thought I’d write a little about how Frostfire came to be, all the way from when it was Frostsliver to its current polished form.
I had the idea for Frostsliver a good year or so before I began writing it. The concept of an living icy companion was suggested to me by my partner during a brainstorming session for books in the Infinite Sea universe where all my fantasy stories so far are set. From there I developed the sentient glacier that gave the ice its power, the bonding system and the culture that my protagonist, Sabira came from – but only after I was told of the Chicken House Competition by my Mum.
Previously I’d come runner up with Scaled in a competition for Bloomsbury, so I jumped at the chance to try again. In the six months had before the entry date I went through three draft versions (eventually to become more like ten after a proper editor got hold of it).
Though I was pipped at the post by Nicki Thornton’s Last Chance Hotel – out now and already doing well – Chicken House chose to take a chance on me as well. There was a lot of work to be done, trimming nearly half the words out and adding plenty more, but with essential assistance from my editor, Kesia, as well as other Chicken House team members, we’ve got to the final printed version. No more changes allowed!
(Hope there’s no embarrassing spelling mistakes left after all that)
Only a month left until you all can find out whether you like the finished result as much as I do!
Turns out I was wrong about the subject of the next blog post, but plans change – which is appropriate, given that I’ve changed my drafting plans about a fair bit. Shelter in Shadow didn’t make it quite to the end – I’ll go back back to finish it off at the end of the year if there’s time. Sandtide is soon to hit the halfway point, and I expect to finish that just before Frostfire’s November 1st release.
Not much change there so far, right? Well, between the rest, I slotted in a first draft of Embershard, the potential sequel to Frostfire. It was surprisingly easy to return to these characters, and I really like where it ended up. Lots of work to do in edits – but when is there not?
Speaking of Frostfire, publication date lumbers ever closer, and I’m getting started on the publicity train. Most of this is still getting locked down, but hopefully I’ll be able to share more here very soon. One aspect of this is going to be more regular posts here (monthly, maybe?). Also I’d like to mention that I’m intending to do a few school visits once Frostfire is out. I’ve been planning out materials for assemblies and workshops, so if you’re interested in booking such a thing (and are a reasonable travel time from Staffordshire), do get in contact. I’ll have a more official way of doing this going up in a month or so.
Much more to come soon!
Coming November 1st 2018, published by Chicken House Books Frostfire is the re-titled form of Frostsliver – and just look at that fantastic cover by Karl James Mountford!
Chosen for the honour of bonding with a Frostsliver – a fragment of the sentient glacier that crests her icy home – Sabira embarks on the dangerous pilgrimage to the top of the mountain. But when a huge avalanche traps her on the glacier and destroys the pass, Sabira is determined to find another way home. In order to survive, she must face up to the merciless mountain – but there are dark and fiery secrets hiding in its depths…
In other, much more minor news, the year’s writing plan is going… acceptably. I’ve edited Plaguewalkers to submission standard, and am close to completing the draft of Shelter in Shadow (probably the subject of my next blog post). Drafts of the next Folded Land book and Sandtide are both in progress, and may well be done by the end of the year. All in all, I’d say that’s not far off where I wanted to be at this point – and with Frostfire looming ever closer, the news should only get better from here!
So, a year comes towards a close, and a new one looms. This coming one may be particularly auspicious for me, what with my debut novel to be released towards its end (final title choice and perhaps other things forthcoming soon). That set of nerve wracking moments is a way off yet though, and in the mean time, here’s an update on what else I plan to get up to this year. Seemed like it was worth getting into practise for future years, when people may read posts like these and *gasp* care!
First, here’s a little editing left on that novel, but the biggest changes are done. I have a stack of other first drafts that need some work though, and that’s my current job. I intend to get both Plaguewalkers and Stormspinner up to submission standard ASAP.
Once that’s done, it’ll be time to finish at least one ongoing draft – likely Shelter in Shadow, a first-person children’s fantasy where humanity has retreated underground after a disaster, and light is now feared as much as darkness once was. A young girl with a talent for mechanisms is desperate to go back above though, to search for her lost father. With a team of oddballs and untrustworthies – as well as a brace of magical fireworks – she will journey the blasted wastes and discover the secrets guarded by the monsters that live there. More on this soon, including some of the techniques I’m using to build characters.
I’d also like to get to a couple of new drafts – the next in the Folded Land series at least, as well as a completely new one, Sandtide. That one’s a YA novel set in a desert land where the sand moves like a sea, and enslaved jinn are used to prop up civilisation. It’ll be challenge, because of the themes involved – religion, fanaticism and more will be factors in the narrative. More on this one when I’ve actually worked on it some.
That’s the lot. Should keep me busy, since I’ll have to find time for book events and such too – but where’s the fun in having too little to do?
Editing is not usually the most fun part of a writer’s time. The further from the initial spark of ideas, the more it feels like work. Fortunately, one more round of editing, one I’ve been working on for a couple of months, is now complete. As with the previous round, it’s made Frostsliver a much better book – tighter, and with more emotional focus.
So, celebration time. One more draft down, a few more to go until the book is ready for publication next year. It’s a long process, but well worthwhile in the end. Hopefully as the time gets closer, there ought to be more to share here – events, cover art and the like.
In the meantime, I’ve got a few new drafts I’m working on in spare moments – two sequels and some new stuff I’ll share details about in another post at some point.
(Not at all final cover)
So, I’ve not had much to say for a bit. There’s a good reason for that.
I now say that not only am I signed up with The Blair Partnership as my agents, but I have also signed with Chicken House Books, and they will be publishing my debut novel next year.
Frostsliver (final title to be determined) is a survival adventure taking place on a sentient glacier.
It is a tale of overcoming the odds, personal limitations and the mountain itself. Magic, gunpowder, monsters and more conspire to try and prevent a girl from reaching home and perhaps saving more lives than just her own.
Sabira is chosen for the honour of bonding a Frostsliver, an intelligent fragment of the living Glacier that spills from the top of her mountain home. Unsure of herself after decisions made years ago, she is forced to come to terms with her personal demons when she is trapped on the mountainside.
The only hope for her is to take up the power and responsibility of a Frostsliver and survive both the mountain’s extreme conditions and perhaps something worse – all assuming she can first get used to the voice of a glacier sounding in her head.
I can’t imagine having a better team to help bring this story – and hopefully many others in future – to bookshelves soon.
So, I didn’t post about finishing the draft of The Pillars of Being, because I didn’t finish. Sort of.
Technically, an end was reached, but some gaps were left in getting there. It’s not that the book won’t work in the end, but it’s going to need a little beating into shape. As a break before having to deal with that problem, I’ve got half way through the next draft – Plaguewalkers.
It’s a tale of mystery and horror in a Venice-like fantasy city besieged by a magical plague. A group of Morbetzia’s underclass must descend into its underworld to find out who or what is strangling the life from the city’s people.
Of course, the bigger news (already shared on Twitter), is my signing with the Blair Partnership Literary Agency. They’ve got a great reputation, a great history (they’re J K Rowling’s agents) and I’m looking forward to working with them to bring the books of Infinite Sea to the world. With luck, there will be more news to share soon!
Not much news lately, but I have hit the 50% mark on The Pillars Of Being. Over the hump!
The book’s taken on most of its shape now, with the world building essentially complete. The setting is dry, hot and lonely, with inspiration pulled from Ethiopian (and other) salt-flats. Animal life is rare, besides the odd vulture and the giant centipede-esque creatures that call the plains their home. It is to the canyons in this desolate space that the caravan in which the story is set must venture to acquire magic for trade. Every trip is a risk, for coming down from the basalt columns bordering the plains puts the caravan in danger from the floods that regularly swamp the land.
Already fraught with peril, things get much worse when the trade caravan’s officer of the law is murdered, and the only one with the skills to investigate is her young, partially trained apprentice.
The Chicken House competition is creeping ever closer to its end, and they have been posting profiles of the five shortlistees. Mine can be found here. Not long now until the result, one way or another!
Also of note, there’s another excerpt up here, this one from my adult fantasy novel, Stormspinner. It’s set in a city carved from giant trees, stuffed full of totems, shaman, sacrifice and more – not to mention the monsters that stalk the forest around it in the ever present rain. It’s a blend of epic and urban fantasy, with a dash of noir and a pinch of western.
Finally, while editing Bridged, I’ve begun working on the drafts of two new novels – one YA and one for a younger audience. The Pillars Of Being is the story of a young man thrust into investigating the murder of his mentor, while attempting to hold together the trade caravan he lives in as it rushes to cross a great floodplain before the waters come again.
Plaguewalkers on the other hand is a Children’s horror fantasy. The canal city of Morbetzia is stricken with a glowing cloud of magical disease that swells up stronger each night. Its only hope is those immune to the plague, pressed into service of the city’s corrupt nobility. A young thief must find a way to survive his new life – especially the things that stalk the streets at night under cover of plague.
(Not at all final cover)
So, there’s been a few updates around here – not least of which is that link above to Books. Everything else can be found from there, including pitches and longer descriptions of my various works, as well as my amateur attempts at temporary covers for them, some of which can be seen in this post.
People may be particularly interested in reading an excerpt from my epic fantasy Spellforged, which can be found here. It’s the first chapter, so hopefully it’ll be just the thing to whet your appetite for a world of sentient stars, songs that can bend wind and flame, and of course the Infinite Sea from which the book series takes its name.
Most importantly though, I’ve finished my first draft of Bridged, the sequel to Scaled which was a runner up for the Bloomsbury/National Literacy Trust New Children’s Author Prize 2015. Now the arduous process of editing begins, which is bad, but also I get to start working on something new, which is great! I may or may not put down some details here soon about whatever I settle on.