Category Archives: publishing

Just out: Story Behind the Book, Volume 3 (Essays on Writing Speculative Fiction)

Story Behind the Book, volume threeAnother of these excellent volumes collecting nearly 40 non-fiction essays from some of the most exciting authors working today. Offering an unique insight into the creative and publishing process, these essay reveal all the beauty, effort and frustration that inevitable comes hand in hand with the urge to write, edit or illustrate.

Contributors include Steven Erikson, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Hugh Howey, Richard Kadrey, Christopher Fowler, Gary Gibson, Eric Brown, Garry Kilworth, Steve Rasnic Tem, Ian R. MacLeod, Cat Sparks, James Everington, Pat Cadigan, Freda Warrington, Nick Mamatas, Robert Reed and many more.

And what’s more, like the earlier volumes editors Kristijan Meic and Ivana Steiner are donating all proceeds to the charity Epilepsy Action, who have been hugely supportive of my daughter Molly (to whom this book is dedicated).

Lots of good reasons to grab a copy!

Buying at Amazon.com in the US
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Buying at Amazon.co.uk in the UK
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New: Story Behind the Book, Volume 2

Just out from the team behind the fabulous upcoming4.me:

Story Behind the Book - Volume 2Story Behind the Book: Volume 2 collects over 30 non-fiction essays from some of the most exciting authors working today. Chronicling the process of writing and editing speculative fiction, these essays provide a unique glimpse behind the scenes.

Contributors include Ellen Ullman, S.M. Wheeler, Laurie Frankel, Paul McAuley, Marcus Sakey, Neal Asher, Ian Tregillis, Edward M. Lerner, Will McIntosh, Madeline Ashby, Nina Allan, Ken Scholes, Keith Brooke, Jasper Kent, Yoon Ha Lee, Ted Kosmatka, Daniel Abraham, Erin Hoffman, Samuel Sattin, Jack Skillingstead, Douglas Nicholas, Paul Tobin, Jill Shultz, Jay Posey, Eric Brown, Samit Basu, Gina X. Grant, Elizabeth Massie, Tom Vater, Django Wexler, Bradley Beaulieu, Jason M. Hough, Lou Morgan, Paul S. Kemp.

Cover art: a photograph of Hoechst stained non-small cell lung cancer cell. Finding cure for cancer is part of daily work for one of our journalists but similarly to Volume 1, all proceeds from Volume 2 will be donated to Epilepsy Action, in our opinion an equally important cause.

Story Behind the Book: Volume 2 is available from:

Contents:

  • Story behind “By Blood” by Ellen Ullman
  • Story behind “Sea Change” by S.M. Wheeler
  • Story behind “Goodbye for Now” by Laurie Frankel
  • Story behind “Quiet War” – “How I wrote the Quiet War novels and stories” by Paul McAuley
  • Story behind “Brilliance”– “Autism, Bourbon and Lies” by Marcus Sakey
  • Story behind “Zero Point” by Neal Asher
  • Story behind “Necessary Evil” by Ian Tregillis
  • Story behind “Fate of Worlds” – “Forty-two years in the making” by Edward M. Lerner
  • Story behind Love Minus Eighty” by Will McIntosh
  • Story behind “iD” by Madeline Ashby
  • Story behind “Stardust” by Nina Allan
  • Story behind “Requiem” by Ken Scholes
  • Story behind “Lord of Stone” by Keith Brooke
  • Story behind “The People’s Will” by Jasper Kent
  • Story behind “Conservation of Shadows” by Yoon Ha Lee
  • Story behind “Prophet of Bones” – “A World Where Creationists Were Right” by Ted Kosmatka
  • Story behind “The Dagger and the Coin” by Daniel Abraham
  • Story behind “Shield of Sea and Space” by Erin Hoffman
  • Story behind “League of Somebodies” by Samuel Sattin
  • Story behind “Life on the Preservation” by Jack Skillingstead
  • Story behind “Something Red” by Douglas Nicholas
  • Story behind “Prepare to Die” by Paul Tobin
  • Story behind “Angel on the Ropes” by Jill Shultz
  • Story behind “Three” by Jay Posey
  • Story behind “Satan’s Reach” by Eric Brown
  • Story behind “Turbulence” by Samit Basu
  • Story behind “The Reluctant Reaper” by Gina X. Grant
  • Story behind “Desper Hollow” by Elizabeth Massie
  • Story behind “The Cambodian Book of the Dead” by Tom Vater
  • Story behind “The Thousand Names” by Django Wexler
  • Story behind “The Flames of Shadam Khoreh” by Bradley Beaulieu
  • Story behind “The Darwin Elevator” by Jason M. Hough
  • Story behind “Blood and Feathers: Rebellion” by Lou Morgan
  • Story behind “A Discourse in Steel” by Paul S. Kemp

War Stories Kickstarter: work by Joe Haldeman, Linda Nagata, TC McCarthy, Ken Liu and more

With contributions from Joe Haldeman, Linda Nagata, TC McCarthy, Ken Liu and more, this looks like a really interesting project. And yes, I have a story in there, too: “War 3.01”, a near-future piece exploring social media warfare.

Full details on the War Stories Kickstarter page.

War Stories (cover by Galen Dara)

War Stories cover by Galen Dara

Here’s what they have to say about it:

An anthology of Military SF, exploring how warfare might affect the soldiers and civilians of tomorrow.

War has been speculated about in science fiction literature from the earliest days of the genre. From George Tomkyns Chesney’s The Battle of Dorking and H.G. Well’s War of the Worlds & War In the Air to Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers to Karin Traviss’sWess’har Wars series and Dan Abnett’s Embedded, science fiction literature has long had something to say about war. Now, it’s time to tell some new stories. War Stories is an anthology that looks to the modern state and the future of war through the words of some of the best short fiction authors writing today.

Our cover art is by the fantastic, Hugo Award winning artist Galen Dara, who’s worked for such places as Fireside Magazine, Lightspeed MagazineGeek Love and Apex’s own Glitter and Mayhem anthology. She’ll also be contributing some additional, interior artwork.

War Stories isn’t an anthology of bug hunts and unabashed jingoism. It’s a look at the people ordered into impossible situations, asked to do the unthinkable, and those unable to escape from hell. It’s stories of courage under fire, and about the difficulties in making decisions that we normally would never make. It’s about what happens when the shooting stops, and before any trigger is ever pulled.

We’ve grown up reading stories from authors such as Robert Heinlein, Joe Haldeman, Orson Scott Card, Timothy Zahn, C.J. Cherryh, Lois McMaster Bujold and others that have laid the foundations for ‘military science fiction’ as a distinct genre.

We want to tell some different stories. Science Fiction, and military science fiction in particular, is a good look at the world today, where military actions are certainly relevant. We aim to tell some new stories that look at the future of warfare, and the people, robots and aliens involved.

More: the War Stories Kickstarter page.


Snapshots: Jessica Rydill interviewed

Malarat by Jessica RydillTell us about Malarat.
Malarat is the name of a person and a place. It’s the title of the Duc de Malarat, a powerful nobleman who plans to put a puppet king on the throne of Lefranu. The Duke wants to rule the whole country so he sets out to attack the independent southern states. He’s backed by the Domini Canes, an order of monks who are a cross between the Inquisition and the Crusaders. The name means ‘Hounds of God’ and was a nickname for the Dominicans historically, when they staffed the Inquisition. They are commanded by a young man called Valdes de Siccaria, who is stunningly beautiful but malevolent.

Their main problem in attacking the south is the shamans, a group of humans with magical powers sufficient to drive them off. Siccaria develops a secret weapon called the Spider, made from iron. Shamans, being magical, react badly to iron, so he discovers a way to neutralise them and sets out to do so. He believes that they offend against the natural order of things, so he is determined to eradicate them.

The shamans learn about this through intelligence information but have no idea how bad it is until they experience it first hand. And then they’re in trouble. Only a handful of them are powerful enough to fight – most shamans just do healing, otherwise you can imagine – kerpow! So it’s an immediate problem for them as a group, and for the people they’re trying to protect.

In addition to that there’s a demon on the loose – no-one knows how it got out (or in). It tends to go round possessing people and hiding out, occasionally emerging to cause trouble.

How does it relate to your earlier work?
It takes place in the same world and the same country. I have ret-conned a few things, such as the name of the country (Lefranu). A lot of people thought it was set in Eastern Europe, but in fact it’s an alternate version of France. I wanted to emphasise that detail. The confusion arises because of the large number of characters with Russian names. In fact, they are all exiles or émigrés of various kinds. Climate change plays an important part in the background of the novel! A mini Ice Age has just ended, and some places have been left technologically and culturally stranded. It’s like the Victorian era with bits that are stuck in the past.

Though the story follows on from the events in The Glass Mountain, my second book, it can definitely be read on its own. It’s not a children’s book. There are some graphic scenes and the themes are dark. It continues to explore my interest (or obsession) with the underworld, and two of the narrative threads take place in the afterlife or spirit world, from the shamanic point of view. I use elements from Russian and Jewish folklore, together with some origin myths about the English. There’s an Anglit (or Englishman) with a mad and spectacular plan to colonise Heaven. He believes that his countrymen are the true Israelites (Ya-udi), as opposed to the Wanderers, and sets out to alter history accordingly.

Are there more Malarat stories to come?
There could be sequels. I’m working on something at the moment, but I’ve zoomed the perspective out a bit and brought in two more parallel worlds, one of which is supposed to be this one – up to a point. I hope the next one will be lighter.

What is the significance of Goddesses in your work?
Many years ago, I was hugely influenced by Robert Graves’s book The White Goddess with its ‘eternal theme’ of two men fighting for the love of one woman. And then after a life-long interest in the mystery of Rennes-le-Chateau, made famous by Holy Blood and Holy Grail and The Da Vinci Code, I came across the legend that Mary Magdalene had sailed to France with a group of companions that included two women also called Mary (a tradition still celebrated in the South of France today).

This triggered the idea of a hidden and heretical goddess-based religion in France, starting with the two Marys who settled in Arles with their Egyptian servant Sara. Not unlike the syncretisation of African gods and goddesses in Vodou, Candomble and Santeria!

That lay behind the creation of several goddess-based sects. Doxa, the state religion, is similar to Christianity with the Virgin Mary as part of the Trinity. Though it’s a matriarchal religion, men hold positions of power. The other religion is worship of the Lady, who appeared in Children of the Shaman as two separate divinities – the Bright Lady and the Cold One. They are aspects of her, dark and light, and in Malarat the Goddess has been reunited with herself. But she’s an ambiguous character– is she good or evil? What is she up to? She has her own way of being, her myth, and some of the characters get caught up in it. So though she seems benign, she’s ambivalent.

Describe your typical writing day.
I don’t have a typical writing day, but I find it easiest to write late at night when there are fewer distractions.

Some reviewers have suggested that your writing is filmic, or even designed to be filmed. What films have influenced you?
One of my all-time favourite films is Fanny and Alexander by Ingmar Bergman. It is a historical film with elements of magic and is really scary in places. It becomes a fight to the death between a young boy and his really horrible step-father, the Bishop, who is one of the scariest characters in film. I also like cartoons and anime and would love to be filmed by Studio Ghibli (in my dreams!). I wanted to convey that atmosphere of a fairly realistic world where nonetheless some strange things happen. And I enjoyed Cronos by Guillermo del Toro – I’d love to have seen what he made of The Hobbit!

What would you draw attention to from your back-list?
I’m planning to reissue my first book, Children of the Shaman, as an ebook – and its sequel, The Glass Mountain. They are both out of print now and I’d like to bring them back. And also to harmonise the language with that of Malarat. Some people criticised me for using untranslated French and I think that’s absolutely fair, so I want to remove some of the French and otherwise provide translations, as I have done in Malarat.

Which other authors or books do you think deserve a plug?
There are so many good people out there. I love the work of Kari Sperring, who writes intelligent and thoughtful fantasy novels that deserve to be published in this country – her latest title is The Grass King’s Concubine. I’d like to mention Adele Abbot, whose novel Postponing Armageddon, an alternate history, is due to be published as an ebook in June. And I enjoy the writing of Meyari McFarland, whose Matriarchies of Muirin tales have been issued as a series of ebooks on Amazon.

Publishing is going through a period of rapid change. How has this affected you as an author, and what are your plans?
My plans are to carry on writing, and to see whether Malarat finds an audience. It is hard to predict how things will turn out in future. I would love to be published in a traditional manner, but the digital format gives me an opportunity that would otherwise be missing. The real problem is bringing readers to the novel – there is so much out there and readers are spoilt for choice. Unfortunately, a lot of the advice you are initially given about using social media is flawed since, as someone observed, the result can be writers trying to sell their books to other writers. (cf. ‘WRITING ON THE ETHER: Writers in the Inferno’ by Porter Anderson, guest-posting on Jane Friedman’s blog.)

If you were to offer one snippet of writing advice what would it be?
Not to self-censor on the first draft but once that is done to edit and re-edit. And then edit some more.

More…
Malarat by Jessica Rydill

Jessica Rydill was born in Bath in 1959. She read English at King’s College Cambridge before training as a solicitor. In 1998 she gave up work to write. Her first two novels, Children of the Shaman and The Glass Mountain, were published by Orbit in 2001 and 2002. She lives just outside Bath with her husband and her collection of Asian Ball-jointed Dolls, some of which resemble characters from her invented world.

Buy stuff and find out more:

 


Coming soon: 3 for June from Eric Brown, Garry Kilworth and James Everington

June will be a big month for us at infinity plus, with three big titles to be published in paperback and a variety of electronic formats.

 

Salvage by Eric Brown

Salvage by Eric Brown

When Salvageman Ed saves Ella Rodriguez from spider-drones on the pleasure planet of Sinclair’s Landfall, he has no idea what he’s letting himself in for. Ella is not at all what she seems, as he’s soon about to find out.

Salvage by Eric BrownWhat follows, as the spider-drones and the Hayakawa Organisation chase Ed, Ella and engineer Karrie light-years across space, is a fast-paced adventure with Ed learning more about Ella – and about himself – than he ever expected.

The Salvageman Ed series of linked stories – four of which appear here for the first time – combine action, humour and pathos, from the master of character-based adventure science fiction.

“Eric Brown’s modest, slightly retro, extremely charming and very human voice has been a distinctive, indeed unique, presence in British SF for many years. Here he offers another interlinked selection of stories which, as is typical of Eric Brown, manage to be small scale, close-up, and completely free of heroic posturing, in spite of the galactic scale of their setting. There is something restful about them, something comforting. Yet while they gently entertain, they also, very quietly, deal with big questions about identity, love, and the relationship between body and soul.” Chris Beckett

 

The Fabulous Beast by Garry Kilworth

The Fabulous Beast by Garry Kilworth

The Fabulous Beast by Garry KilworthA set of beautifully crafted tales of the imagination by a writer who was smitten by the magic of the speculative short story at the age of twelve and has remained under its spell ever since.

These few stories cover three closely related sub-genres: science fiction, fantasy and horror. In the White Garden murders are taking place nightly, but who is leaving the deep foot-prints in the flower beds? Twelve men are locked in the jury room, but thirteen emerge after their deliberations are over. In a call centre serving several worlds, the staff are less than helpful when things go wrong with a body-change holiday.

Three of the stories form a set piece under the sub-sub-genre title of ‘Anglo-Saxon Tales’. This trilogy takes the reader back to a time when strange gods ruled the lives of men and elves were invisible creatures who caused mayhem among mortals.

Garry Kilworth has created a set of stories that lift readers out of their ordinary lives and place them in situations of nightmare and wonder, or out among far distant suns. Come inside and meet vampires, dragons, ghosts, aliens, weremen, people who walk on water, clones, ghouls and marvellous wolves with the secret of life written beneath their eyelids.

‘Kilworth’s stories are delightfully nuanced and carefully wrought.’ Publishers Weekly

‘A bony-handed clutch of short stories, addictive and hallucinatory.’ The Times

‘Here is a writer determined and well equipped to contribute to the shudder-count.’ The Guardian

 

Falling Over by James Everington

Falling Over by James Everington

Falling Over by James EveringtonSometimes when you fall over you don’t get up again. And sometimes, you get up to find everything has changed:

An ordinary man who sees his face in a tabloid newspaper. A soldier haunted by the images of those he has killed from afar. Two petty criminals on the run from a punishment more implacable than either of them can imagine. Doppelgängers both real and imaginary. A tranquil English village where those who don’t fit in really aren’t welcome, and a strange hotel where second chances are allowed… at a price.

Ten stories of unease, fear and the weird from James Everington.
“Good writing gives off fumes, the sort that induce dark visions, and Everington’s elegant, sophisticated prose is a potent brew. Imbibe at your own risk.” – Robert Dunbar, author of The Pines and Martyrs & Monsters

“The horror angle in the stories is almost always a metaphor for other things – loneliness, fear, isolation, regret. The word “haunting” really does double duty here… Beautifully written, evocative, masterful…what shines through these stories is the author’s love of language.” Red Adept Reviews, 2011 Indie Awards Short Story category

“Everington is excellent at evoking a mounting sense of unease, turning to dread, that close, oppressive feeling when everything is still and ordinary, but the whole world is filled with the sense that something huge and terrible is just about to happen.” Iain Rowan, author of One Of Us and Nowhere To Go


E-publishing: Think Three Times – a guest post by Tony Daniel

I’ve been on the road a bit this spring to SF conventions and such, and I’ve noticed a minor frenzy about self-published ebooks among writers, both published and unpublished. There are many blogs and newsletters out there that claim to be following a revolution, and I read several of them regularly. I’m also daily involved in the acquisition and publication of ebooks myself.

On one hand, I’m happy to see turmoil, as it frightens the hidebound publishing industry into attempting new things, which helps authors and readers. On the other hand, it seems to me that there’s a cultural bubble that has formed. There is certainly a big change, driven by the Kindle and the computer tablets, that is going on. But it is going on within established publishing for the most part. In a way, this is as it has always been.  Printing technology has been relatively cheap for thirty years, and self-publishing is well within the means of anybody with a decent job and some savings. But distribution of books is not.

This is not some industry conspiracy or technological limitation, but the fact that nobody, no individual reader, wants to read through a giant mountain of crap to find a couple of gems.  They surely don’t want to pay ninety-nine cents, or two or three dollars, per book for the opportunity to do so.  These essentials have not changed. Now a couple of friends of mine, such as Bob Kruger of Electricstory.com, are working on automated vetting systems (with a human component) and other ideas of various sorts that are totally legitimate and have a lot of promise.  Maybe technology can come to the aid of a reader trying to make a good selection on what book to read next.

But, and I say this with utmost conviction: most of the various ebook services—perhaps particularly the well-funded ones that look great and talk revolution, and may even be connected to mainstream publishing in some manner—are nonsense enterprises.  I don’t think they are crooked; not at all.  Just deluded.

At the moment, in a general sense, self-publishing your ebook will make you next to nothing and nobody will read it.  Even if you are the world’s best self-promoter, I would ask: are the people you gin up into buying the thing going to tell others to read it?  This is the real power behind publishing, for all its idiotic cronyism and decrepit practices.  It generally doesn’t put out absolute dreck.  Oh, it puts out a lot of dreck.  No argument there.  But it is generally trustworthy enough for a reader to take a chance on its products.  That reader then recommends the book to an acquaintance who crosschecks the friends judgment by determining if the book has a familiar publisher. And, since I’m convinced word-of-mouth sells ninety-five percent of all books, that moment of real, actual, not made-up legitimacy, is a huge advantage.

So I would say think three times about self-publishing.  Then think again.  And then, just as you’re about to press that “send” button, don’t do it.  Unless, that is, you want to start the small business of being a publisher yourself.  That is a different story, and it involves a commitment of years of effort that is not writing effort.  Most writers think they can do anything, of course, and are convinced in romantic fashion that they will have infinite energy to do so.  Some do.  I know a few successful small press entrepreneurs, such as, for instance, Patrick Swenson of Fairwood Press.  They are a rare breed. I know many others who have thrown away money best spent elsewhere.  I don’t know the path ahead, but I understand the current moment well enough. There’s a bubble that is about to deflate because there is just not enough money—which, despite desperate social analysis to the contrary, generally signifies interest from readers—to sustain it.

Tony Daniel is an editor at Baen Books, which is distributed by Simon and Schuster, and has an ebook retail site at Baenebooks.com. He is the author of seven science fiction novels, and several award-winning short stories.


Nick’s back! New teen fiction from bestselling author of Piggies

‘The king of children’s horror’ – Sunday Express

After a bit of a break, Nick Gifford (alter ego of infinity plus proprietor Keith Brooke) has returned to teen fiction with a short story: The Ragged People – a story of the post-plague years.

The Ragged People: a story of the post-plague years - post-apocalypse fiction from Nick GiffordThe story is set in an England ruined by terrorists’ biological warfare attacks; it’s a standalone tale, but if there’s enough demand there will be further installments, and maybe even a full-length novel. Further full-length titles are also due from Nick; details to follow as they become available.

Here’s the jacket copy:

Life in the refugee camp is hard for Dan and his brother Rick. They sleep huddled together with a thousand other refugees in an enormous warehouse, and they spend all day queuing for food and water and medicine, watched over by soldiers in anti-contamination masks. And all around them, people are dying: dying from hunger, dying from one of the new plagues, or dying simply because they have lost the will to live.

Selected from a line-up by the intimidating Mr Wiley, the boys leap at a chance to leave the camp and go to live in the Brightwell Community, but their hopes are soon dashed. Is a life of forced labour in a land at the mercy of raiding gangs and ever-mutating plagues really any better than the UN refugee camp had been?

A gripping post-apocalypse story of two brothers struggling to survive in a Britain devastated by biological warfare, from the author of the bestselling vampire novel Piggies.

Praise for Nick Gifford’s work:

‘Guaranteed to scare your socks off’ – Glasgow Herald

‘A bold, shocking and completely unputdownable horror story’ – Waterstone’s Books Quarterly

‘A cut above the usual horror tale’ – School Librarian

‘Really spooky! I’d definitely try out other books by this author as Nick Gifford makes you want to keep reading’ Teen Titles

‘One of the most original horror tales of recent times … you’ll have to go back quite a way to find a debut novel that is quite as striking as Piggies‘ – Rhyl and Prestatyn Journal

Nick Gifford is the bestselling author of Piggies, Flesh and Blood, Incubus and Erased, and he has been described by the Sunday Express as ‘The king of children’s horror’. His work has been optioned for movies and has featured on various bestseller lists, at one time out-ranking JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books.


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