So much good stuff in this week’s podcast. I got to chat with Richard Armitage about his new Audible original thriller Geneva. I think writers can learn a lot from actors in how they approach a script and develop characters, and Richard was very generous in sharing the methods he uses.
This episode also sees the return of Mr D, and in the extended version of the podcast (for subscribers) we discuss his night in Leicester Square seeing Unwelcome. If you want support and subscribe to the podcast, pop over to Patreon and become a Chart Topper supporter and you’ll get access to over 120 Deep Dives.
Peter May has this uncanny knack of peeking into the near future, writing about it, and getting it right. He did it with his novel Lockdown, which was about a SARS-like pandemic. It was rejected by all the major publishers for being unrealistic… Those same publishers clamoured to buy it when Covid changed all our lives. He’s done it again with his novel A Winter Grave, which is set in a near future that’s been ravaged by climate change.
If this all sounds a bit grim, don’t worry. Me and my guest co-presenter Caimh McDonnell do a good job of lowering the tone with some grounded writing advice. And this is the episode where I reveal why Caimh is thanked in the credits of Unwelcome.
Oh, and if you’re watching the Youtube version, have fun spotting the moments where my internet dropped out and either me or Caimh have baffled expressions on our faces…
Blackwell’s Bookshop 146 Oxford Road Manchester M13 9GP
I’ll be chatting with that man again, the wonderful Caimh McDonnell about The Witches of Woodville books and the film Unwelcome. Despite what Stephen Hawking might have told you, space and time are limited, so grab your tickets by clicking here.
Tuesday 7th February 2023, 7pm Waterstones, Trafalgar Square
I’ll be moderating what promises to be an amazing evening of conversation with two of my favourite authors, Caimh McDonnell and Ben Aaronovitch!
They’ll be discussing their recent releases Amongst Our Weapons and Love Will Tear Us Apart.
Amongst Our Weapons by Ben Aaronovitch is the hugely entertaining new novel in the bestselling Rivers of London series, which details the adventures of Peter Grant. In addition to his successful series of urban fantasy novels, Ben is a screenwriter, with early notable success on BBC’s legendary Doctor Who.
Love Will Tear Us Apart is the much-anticipated third instalment in The Stranger Times series from C.K. McDonnell, which combines his distinctive dark wit with his love of the weird and wonderful. C.K. McDonnell is a former stand-up comedian and TV writer, who has performed all round the world and has been nominated for a Kid’s TV BAFTA.
A huge thank you to everyone who came to last night’s online launch for The Crow Folk! I think a splendid time was had by all. If you missed out, or want to relive the giddy joy of it all over again, it’s here in its entirely for your viewing pleasure…
Thanks also to Caimh McDonnell for compering magnificently, to Ian W Sainsbury for the joyful sing-a-long-a-pub-knees-up at the end, to Emily and Kai for tech support, Dominic King for bringing us to the world via the BBC, to Sara Cox for her sage advice in the run-up to launch, to Claire for her lovely veg, and to George for once more reprising the role of Pumpkinhead.
The Crow Folk is now out there and belongs to you lovely readers. I sincerely hope you really enjoy it… and if you do, there’s more on the way. Not only will book two be coming in October, but I’ll also be releasing a quartet of short stories featuring the mysterious Miss Charlotte. Watch this space for more news on that soon!
Good gravy, can The End of Magic really be a year old already? I guess if you’ve been keeping up with the blog and me constantly banging on about it, it must feel more like a decade, but as I get older the years become more of a blur and it’s good to take stock occasionally.
Below are some select diary entries from around the time of publication, along with a few asides to put them in perspective. Once again, a huge thank you to everyone who supported the book. It would not have been possible without you.
Monday 28th January
The End of Magic has arrived!
My finished copies were delivered this afternoon and I’m very happy with them. They’re reassuringly chunky, the spot UV on the cover will help them stand out, and the cover art is magnificent in the flesh.
Claire and Emily helped with a little social media video where we played out the where George McFly gets his books and I’m happy to say it’s getting lots of love online.
Wednesday 30th January
A good writing start this morning, but when I had a mid-morning cuppa I checked social media and discovered that folk were getting their copies of The End of Magic! There followed a day of social media madness as the good people who pledged for the book sent photos and congratulations. It was euphoric, overwhelming, and I could get very used to it.
I have an email dated 5th February where I inform Unbound that a reader noticed two typos. This is pretty standard with any book, despite all the proofreading. We fixed the eBooks pronto.
Wednesday 6th February
No writing today for two reasons…
It’s publication tomorrow and there’s all sorts of bits of social media to prepare, and…
My MacBook went kaput yesterday. The keyboard and trackpad wouldn’t respond.
I took it to Stormfront this afternoon and the guy held it up to his ear. “I think there’s something rattling about in there,” he said. He ran a diagnostic, restored it a few times and it was fine. Phew.
Friday 8th February 2019
The End of Magic is out now!
Well, yesterday… Quite an exhausting day yesterday, so let’s take it one step at a time.
Yes, the book is out and off to a good start with reviews: three five-star reviews on Amazon, and a four and a five on Goodreads.
I had a day in London yesterday, starting with an attempt at uploading all kinds of social media for the book via the wifi at Waterstones, Tottenham Court Road. It was too slow to the point of stopping, so I took myself off to the Byron at Farringdon where I was meeting Graeme (author Gray Williams) for lunch, got there early and gobbled up most of my spare data using the hotspot on my phone*
*It still astonishes me how much money I spend on data
(After lunch I met with two of my uncles who showed me where they grew up with my dad. We’ll skip that bit!)
*Yes, I do shameless namedropping even in my own diary. It’s partly why I started a diary. I kept meeting amazing people and then forgetting that I met them.
Told you, my memory is like a sieve.
This morning I put together a couple of ad campaigns and caught up on emails.
Tonight, Claire and I went to Vicky Newham’s book launch at Harbour Books and chatted with Vicky and her editor Clio.
It was around this time that I discovered that Unbound had published the eBook with two of the chapters in the wrong order! A bit of a panic as I kept readers updated, while Unbound made the fix. To be fair, they were pretty quick about it.
Thursday 14th February
Tonight I drove down to Tunbridge Wells for the Dominic King show (on BBC Radio Kent) and I got to plug the book and tomorrow’s launch big time. Also started to notice that complete strangers are mentioning me and The End of Magic and saying nice things. Exciting stuff!
Saturday 16th February
Last night was the launch party for The End of Magic and I’m still coming down from the giddy high it gave me.
Claire made amazing cupcakes, George handed them out and charmed the crowd (Yes! A crowd — 20+ people), and Emily live-streamed it and did cool time-lapse videos.
Rich Boarman — The Steam Wizard! — was there with Steam Witch Katie, and the Steam Sorcerer Andrew, and they stood by the door of Harbour Books getting admiring honks from passing cars and drawing the punters in.
(There’s a bit here where I name people who turned up, but I’m bound to have forgotten someone, so I’m leaving it out here)
It was overwhelming. Olivia (from Harbour Books) said it was one of the best and busiest launches they could remember.
Once we figured out how to fit the magic staff in the car — it had been presented to me at the start of the event by Rich, and it is magnificent! — we went for chips.
What an incredible evening.
Saturday 23rd February
Faversham Literary Festival
In the evening I was back for my event with David John Griffin. We had about twenty people and it was good event with excellent questions. We started selling our own books, but then the room was swamped by bloody poets turning up for their open mic session, so few people could actually get close to us… Which was not conducive to sales.
It was around this time that I started planning to self-publish The End of Magic in the US. Unbound don’t have much of a presence there, and I fancied self-publishing it after my experiences with Back to Reality. This had all been agreed at the contract stage with Unbound, but they still fed their edition out to the world, including the US. Having seen this sort of thing happen many times when I was Orion, I knew it was a simple fix and I asked Unbound to sort the feed. They promptly did… but also accidentally removed it from the UK Amazon store… This was after a successful AMS ad campaign that placed it in the top 100 Fantasy titles. It never really got the same momentum again. Sigh.
Friday 8th March
I sent a signed a contract to Amazon for The End of Magic, finally proving that I have US rights, so with any luck I can get that live soon, too.
And thus ended a barrage of emails between me, Unbound and Amazon sorting the rights situation. Would I do it again? Possibly, but it was a right old faff and accidentally removing the book from Amazon was a real blow. Amazon’s algorithms were behind me, I was making my up the charts and becoming more and more visible and then… nothing. Ah well. Onwards. Upwards.
The question I get asked the most is will there be a sequel. Probably not. At least, not with Unbound. As publisher, they have first dibs on any sequels and I don’t fancy going through the fundraising process again, lest I become like that guy in the office who goes on a 5k charity fun run every few months and expects you to donate every time (that said, I am mulling over the idea of doing a Kickstarter for something very different). I have ideas for a sequel, but I had planned for the book to work as a stand-alone, which is does.
The biggest surprise is how many reviews I get that say, “I don’t normally read fantasy, but I really enjoyed this.” That’s my market. Which might explain why it’s been so blooming difficult trying to target them with ads to keep the sale momentum.
But I must stop griping. Overall, The End of Magic has been a terrific experience. I had great editors, fantastic cover art, and incredible support from readers.