Category Archives: YA fiction

All three volumes of Stephen Palmer’s Factory Girl trilogy now available

Published 6th December 2016, part three of The Factory Girl trilogy:

The Girl with No Soul by Stephen Palmer

Ebook: Amazon USAmazon UK
Paperback: Amazon USAmazon UK – CreateSpace

The Girl with No Soul by Stephen Palmer

It is 1911.

Returning to Britain from Africa, Erasmus and Roka find themselves thrown into a perilous sequence of chase, capture and escape. Yet they must return to Sheffield as fast as they can, and in secret, there to prepare for an inevitable confrontation inside Sir Tantalus Blackmore’s Factory.

But it is not only Sir Tantalus whom they must face. As the British Army, automaton horrors, and a band of desperate Marxist engineers converge around the Factory, Erasmus and Roka must decide who to trust and who to work with…

Can they overcome the fiendishly complex defences of the Factory? Will the diabolical agents of the Clockwork Garden stop them, or will Sir Tantalus himself step in? Who, in the end, will reach the heart of the Factory to learn its terrible secrets?

The final part of a breathtaking adventure through an alternative Edwardian Britain and beyond, where clockwork automata and their makers threaten to change the world forever.

“A gonzo homage to the late Victorian/Edwardian British adventure yarn… imagine Michael Palin and Terry Jones’ Ripping Yarns doing a Steampunk episode with a large helping of early 70s British prog-rock psychedelia, some very peculiar flying machinora, and a chocolate train… Stephen Palmer is a writer you should read. His work is unique, original, sometimes challenging, always fresh and sometimes barking… Hairy London is strange, mad, subversive and possibly just a little bit dangerous. You won’t have encountered a vision of London like it.” Amazing Stories

“Stephen Palmer is a find.” Time Out

“Stephen Palmer’s imagination is fecund…” Interzone

“…a thrilling chase across a ravaged Europe, a burgeoning North Africa and balkanised US, interleaving excellent action set-pieces with fascinating philosophising on the nature of consciousness. A gripping read to the poignant last line.” The Guardian, on Beautiful Intelligence

Ebook: Amazon USAmazon UK
Paperback: Amazon USAmazon UK – CreateSpace

The Factory Girl trilogy by Stephen Palmer

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Tomorrow… may never be the same again: New YA release by Nick Gifford

Just out: Tomorrow by Nick Gifford

Tomorrow by Nick Gifford - a young adult time-travel thrillerTomorrow: a future only you can see; a future only you can save…

When fifteen-year-old Luke’s father dies, his eccentric family threatens to descend into chaos. Luke distracts himself by helping to sort through his father’s belongings, a painful process which takes on an entirely new dimension when he discovers that his father had somehow had knowledge of events in his own future. This prescience is connected in some way to a recent spate of terrorist attacks, which would explain why security forces – and others – start to take an interest in Luke’s discovery. Just what had his father known, and why are Luke and his friends suddenly at the centre of it all?

Tomorrow: an emotion- and time-tangled thriller set in the War Against Chronological Terror.

Tomorrow: when three teenagers may have the power to save or destroy a world that is yet to be.

Praise for Nick Gifford’s work

“The king of children’s horror.” Sunday Express

“Another great teen thriller.” Spot On

“Ingenious … this chilling story reads with all the power and demented logic of a thoroughly bad dream.” The Independent

“A contemporary thriller with overtones of Orwell and Huxley about it.” Rhyl Journal

“A story that genuinely chills and chafes at ethical and moral certainty… Erased is a real romp of a read. That it equips readers with an awareness of the mechanics of inhumanity must be a step towards ensuring history’s mistakes are not repeated.”Achukareviews

“An exceptional new talent in children’s literature … a bold, shocking and completely unputdownable horror story.” Waterstone’s Books Quarterly

“The pacing and plotting in this novel are superb. Twists and surprises occur at unpredictable intervals. And the ending is a blend of hope and menace … achieves a level of excellence equivalent to one of Ramsey Campbell’s books, neither condescending to his youthful readers nor slighting his adult ones. Now, that’s a truly scary accomplishment!” Asimov’s SF Magazine

“Guaranteed to scare your socks off.” Glasgow Herald

Buy this ebook from: Amazon US – Amazon UK

Buy this book in print: Amazon US – Amazon UK – CreateSpace

Nick Gifford collectibles

Working on the Amazon listings for the new editions of four Nick Gifford YA novels, I was a little surprised to find copies of the first editions on offer at Amazon for rather unbelievable prices.

How about a first edition of Erased for a mere $134.90 or Incubus at $122.32?

A bit steep? Well both are bargains compared to a first edition of Flesh and Blood, which is listed at $211.38.

I’m sure it’s some kind of scam and that these aren’t really viable prices for first edition Nicks, but Hell, it makes the new editions seem like real bargains, with paperbacks of four Nick Gifford novels at $12.99 and ebook editions a mere $3.99 each. Probably best to snap them up quickly before collectors drive the prices up!


New: four young adult novels from Nick Gifford

“The king of children’s horror…” Sunday Express

A set of handsome new paperbacks, plus the first ever ebook editions of Nick Gifford’s first four novels: young adult fiction with a dark, paranoid edge, first published in the UK by Penguin.

Piggies by Nick GiffordFlesh and Blood by Nick GiffordLike Father by Nick GiffordErased by Nick Gifford

Piggies
Transported to a world inhabited by vampires, Ben befriends a girl called Rachel. She takes him to her farm to prove she’s not like the other vampires, but that’s when he discovers a terrible secret. And why is the book called Piggies? That’s the worst horror of all. Optioned for film by Jonathan Cavendish and Andy Serkis.

“Ingenious… this chilling story reads with all the power and demented logic of a thoroughly bad dream.” The Independent

Buy this ebook from: Amazon US – Amazon UK
Buy this book in print: Amazon US – Amazon UK – CreateSpace

Flesh and Blood
Matt’s home life is falling to pieces as his mother seeks refuge from divorce by returning to the seaside town where she grew up. Separated from his friends, bored and discontented, Matt gradually becomes aware that his mother’s family are the keepers of a terrifying secret.

“Another great teen thriller.” Spot On

Buy this ebook from: Amazon US – Amazon UK
Buy this book in print: Amazon US – Amazon UK – CreateSpace

Like Father
Danny is terrified of being like his father, who ended up in prison after a night of savage violence. But then he finds his father’s diary and uncovers his dark thoughts – and even darker secrets. Who was whispering to his father, goading him, leading him on? And what if they are coming back for Danny?
*Originally published by Penguin as Incubus, this edition reverts to the author’s preferred title.

“Incubus is a chilling psychological drama, a supernatural horror story and, somewhere on the edge, is a political thriller: the episodes in East Germany are as tense and unusual as the rest … a dark story that will chill the reader … Teenage readers should find this gripping: a cut above the usual horror tale.” School Librarian

Buy this ebook from: Amazon US – Amazon UK
Buy this book in print: Amazon US – Amazon UK – CreateSpace

Erased
You’re not paranoid if they really are after you. Someone is messing with Liam’s world. All the rules have changed and his life has unravelled completely. What he does know is that someone is watching him. There are no bystanders in this terrifying game.

“An exciting, fast paced book that will have you on the edge of your seat until the last page.” Word Up

Buy this ebook from: Amazon US – Amazon UK
Buy this book in print: Amazon US – Amazon UK – CreateSpace


Free copy of Piggies by Nick Gifford

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Piggies by Nick Gifford

Piggies

by Nick Gifford

Giveaway ends December 24, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

 


Snapshots: Kim Lakin-Smith interviewed

[Kim Lakin-Smith’s Autodrome is reviewed by Keith Brooke in today’s Guardian]

Autodrome by Kim Lakin-Smith

How would you describe your latest novel, Autodrome?
Death Race with a soul. Autodrome is my wink to the gear-nut and the petrol-head, from rusting rat rods to caterpillar-tread wheelchairs to howling V8s. Its action-adventure with a hefty dose of Indiana-style questing. It’s also a story of survival against the odds and trying to not just beat but better the system.

On one level, it’s a fairly straightforward quest story, what makes it stand out for me is the lovingly detailed backdrop. Tell us a bit about the city of Autodrome.
Everything I write has a strong basis in fact; for me, it is what makes a story engaging and, ultimately, believable. While researching Autodrome I read up on MotorCity, a retail, sporting, recreational and residential development in Dubai. (Incidentally, this was prior to the evolution of the ‘Autodrome’ that now takes pride of place in the development – science fiction becoming science fact, god damn it!) I wondered what would happen if race fans and vehicle enthusiasts flocked to MotorCity in droves; it would soon outgrow itself and be forced to relocate.

At the same time, I needed to consider the geography of a new UAE redevelopment. Given the arid climate, the siting of the city next to a water source – Lady Luck Lough – was essential, as was keeping it in a country rich in oil.  Next came the inner workings of the city, and this was where I really got to have fun just imagining all of the out-there possibilities for a future world dedicated to racing. Equally, I wanted the environment to have its roots in real-world commerce, for instance advertising revenue comes from MasterCard, Antram, et al.

For me, cities are characters in their own right.  If characters are to come to life for the reader, they have to live in a world that feels gritty and all-encompassing and tangible. This meant giving Autodrome a seedy side; while the west of the city revels in the spoils of the sport, the east is drug-addled and desperately poor, its young people siphoned off to race for cash and perpetuate the dream.

The novel’s protagonists are mostly 15 to 18 years old, and so could the book be read as a young adult novel; but then it’s equally easy as an adult novel and it’d be a shame if it was overlooked by anyone not wanting to read “kids’ stuff”. Who do you see as the audience for this book?
Autodrome exists very much in the ‘crossover’ between YA and adult. The decision to focus on teens was based on some early feedback which suggested the story would have more punch with a younger cast of characters.  I really hope that readers who have enjoyed my work in the past will agree that, stylistically, Autodrome stays firmly in my ballpark. I haven’t indulged my characters’ youth; rather, they are expected to earn a crust from an early age, and they have the pride, skill and sheer bloody-mindedness to keep going when older competitors end up dead or jaded.

Something that is always really important to me is to retain my political stance as a writer. The crossover potential of Autodrome allowed me to feature a multicultural society and explore gender, disability and sexuality as part of the natural human condition rather than makes them the sole focus of the plot.

Your research and knowledge show through in the best possible ways – was it an easy book to write, or tough to hit that level of verisimilitude?
I did a lot of research before and during the writing of Autodrome. The race scenes were intrinsic to the book’s success, of course, and I did get carried away with the numbers of those, eventually cutting a few scenes that had taken a fair amount of time to write. I was also very conscious that not everyone shares my love of mechanical detail, but I figured there had to be a balance. This was, after all, my ode to the hotrodder scene and I wanted there to be a level of retro-cool and gear-geek self-indulgence. I had the added bonus of being friends with Lee Whitmore, petrol-head and rodder, who didn’t seem to object to spending many an evening drinking beer and talking shop.

My real hope with Autodrome is that it fires the imagination of readers, even if they don’t have a vested interest in vehicles. I also wanted to create a world where girls race just as hard as boys and on an even playing field.

What are you working on now?
I am working on my next adult book with the provisional title of Curtain Falls, but I’m sure that will change. It is a challenging book to write because it will cross time periods and has its roots in the notion of man as animal, the value of the written word, and fascism. Some pretty heavy subjects which make my head spin! Its early days so I don’t know how the book will pan out, but it feels like a book I should push myself to write, no matter how terrifying the prospect.

What have you recently finished?
I have just completed two children’s books, The Mouse Morrow Map and The Wylde Witches. They are part of a six part fantasy series featuring 12 year old Scarlet White and her adventures next door in Lone Hall, home to sorcerers, elder spirits, boggles, ghouls, sprites and meddlesome mice. I love writing the series between my adult stories; it is freeing to let the imagination flow, no holds barred.

What’s recently or soon out?
My debut novel, Tourniquet, is being released as a limited edition by Jurassic London in 2014. I am very excited to see what Jurassic are going to do with Tourniquet; there is talk of including artist plates and the cover art is a striking take on the religious iconography which features in the book.

Newcon Press recently launched Looking Landwards, an anthology commissioned by The Institution of Agricultural Engineers and which includes my short story, ‘Soul Food.’ This is a prequel piece to my novel, Cyber Circus.

Describe your typical writing day.
After the school run, breakfast and a stalk over the fields with Drake, our fat lab, my writing day starts at 10.00am. I write long-hand, in notebooks or on scraps of paper, and go through a lot of pens. If I am writing a new story, I sit in my ‘writing chair’ beside a window that looks out over the garden and some gorgeous old trees in nearby gardens and I think or write. The best stories flow very quickly, and I research extra details as I go. Other days, I’m in the office trying to make sense of my scrawls and typing up on the laptop. I’d like to say I break for lunch – more like I eat at my desk while catching up on news.

By 4.00pm my daughter Scarlet is back from school and it is time for homework, housework and slaving over a hot stove. Work begins again at 7.00pm until 9.00pm, at which point I pour a large wine or several, listen to music and chat over plot ideas with my husband, Del, or collapse on the sofa to watch some spectacularly bad sci-fi.

What would you draw attention to from your back-list?
I really liked the idea of packaging my novel, Cyber Circus, with a sister novella, Black Sunday; there are overlapping themes and, while both are stand alone, this lent an extra dimension to both stories. I would like to publish Black Sunday in its own right in the future as it garnered good reviews and it is my personal favourite of my stories.

My short story, The Island of Peter Pandora, is a steampunk reimagining of Peter Pan and The Island of Doctor Moreau. I think Peter is one of my most disturbed characters to date! The story first appeared in Resurrection Engines (Snowbooks, 2012) and was selected for The Best British Fantasy 2013 (Salt Publishing, 2013).

Which other authors or books do you think deserve a plug?
I am overwhelmed that I get to meet so many incredibly talented writers, editors, publishers, marketers and artists. Everyone works so hard and I am always amazed by how supportive the writing community really is.

To highlight a few real contemporary gems, I’d say authors Adrian Tchaikovsky, Nina Allen, Gareth L Powell, and Den Patrick are among my favourites. I am a huge fan of Philip Reeve’s YA series, Mortal Engines, and I can never get enough of Diana Wynne Jones’s mischievous fantasies.

I would also like to give a special mention to Ian Whates (writer, editor, publisher and all round talent) of Newcon Press, and Jared and Anne Shurin of Jurassic London. Both small presses are doing amazing work with both established authors and exciting new talent.

If you were to offer one snippet of writing advice what would it be?
Just the one? 😉

Plot is everything.

So… the easy one: what’s the future of publishing? How will writers be making a living and publishing in five or ten years? What will readers be reading?
This is such a difficult question. In terms of large publishers, commerciality is key, which means, more than ever, the independents are home to books which push boundaries or fall just outside of the traditional remit.  Authors need to have lots of fingers in lots of pies if they are to make any kind of a living out of writing; the majority have daytime jobs and write when they can. I like the idea that publishing will evolve into a far more autonomous model where writers are solely responsible for their output, but, at the same time, this is already a solitary profession.

I am horrified by the return percentages from the behemoth which is Amazon – if ever there was a science fiction horror in the making, it is the story of Amazon’s monopoly over book consumerism. But I am a realist, and I am excited by the evolution of publishing in one of two directions. The first will be a much more stripped back art form. Gone the palpability of book production; instead the sole focus will be the consumption of words. The second will be the enrichment of the eBook format through reader interaction and all manner of artistic content.

As for what readers will be reading, I’m hoping that teenage boys will find a voice and either refute the belief they don’t read or find a renewed interest in books. I think this is where the virtual format may come into its own.

More…
Cyber Circus by Kim Lakin-SmithKim Lakin-Smith is the author of Tourniquet, Cyber Circus – shortlisted for the 2012 British Science Fiction Association Best Novel and the British Fantasy Award for Best Novel – the YA novella, Queen Rat, and Autodrome. Her short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines, including Interzone, Black Static, and Celebration: 50 years of the BSFA.  2014 sees the release of Tourniquet as a limited edition run from Jurassic London.

More:


The return of the serial story

Serial fiction is not exactly a new form. Charles Dickens, Alexander Dumas, Henry James, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle… they were all at it a long, long time ago. In the last few decades the serial story has been very much out of favour. Indeed, in most genres short fiction itself has dwindled to almost non-existence.

The Ragged People: a story of the post-plague years - post-apocalypse fiction from Nick GiffordShort science fiction has persisted, and while short stories often return to previously-used characters and settings, true serial fiction has been a rarity.

Is the rise of the ebook changing this?

Perhaps.

Serial fiction, and short fiction, have generally been viewed by commercial publishers as dead areas, but one significant change with the advent of e-publishing has been the rise of the long tail: previously unviable niches are now sustainable, with production costs minimised and global reach maximised.

For the writer, serial fiction is an intriguing proposition.

For starters, the form is different. Serial fiction isn’t just a novel cut into shorter blocks and published at intervals. With a novel, the reader has generally invested up front and is more likely to give a book a chance. With serial fiction, readers have only invested one episode at a time: if that chunk doesn’t deliver, and if it doesn’t hook the reader, then why should the reader bother with subsequent episodes? Think of serial TV drama: most aim for that Eastenders ending, the set-up for a big revelation or dramatic conflict that the viewer can’t afford to miss and then, duh, duh, d-d-duh the theme music kicks in.

Some writers will wing it with their serial fiction: write an episode, wait until it has been published and then write the next one – real seat-of-the-pants writing. Others take a more planned approach. But however you do it, the considerations are different, and for me that makes it fun.

It also lets you try new things. You’ll often find that writers really push the limits with their short fiction, while their novel-length work plays it a bit safer. This is partly a result of commercial pressures, of course, but is also because a one-off short story gives you the opportunity to push boundaries; failure with a short story does not usually end careers.

Serial fiction lies somewhere in between: in my Ragged People serial (written for teenagers with my Nick Gifford pen-name), I’ve started with a fairly self-contained story. I have some ideas for what will happen next, I have characters I want to write about, and I’d love to carry on, but then there are lots of writing projects I’d like to work on. By publishing the first story I can gauge response before committing to writing more. (Or, of course, I can ignore response and just plough on regardless…) My hope is that I’ll keep getting nudged for more episodes until I find that I’ve written a novel, almost by accident.

The new Aethernet Magazine showcases serial fiction from some fabulous writers (Eric Brown, Chris Becket and Tony Ballantyne for starters) taking a variety of approaches, from the carefully plotted to the winging it approach, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how it develops. What’s more the Aethernet blog is publishing interviews with the authors about their approaches to serial fiction, which promises to be particularly interesting for writers interested in the form – most recently Chris Beckett, talking about his serialised sequel to Dark Eden (shortlisted for this year’s Arthur C Clarke Award).

As a writer, it’s great to see serial fiction getting a new opportunity. Let’s just hope that readers find it just as exciting!


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