The Falcon Throne in paperback … Book 1 of The Tarnished Crown


To celebrate the paperback release of my latest book, The Falcon Throne, book 1 of The Tarnished Crown, I’m teaming up with my wonderful publisher Orbit for an online writing workshop. This will include an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit, and the chance to have a sample of your work read and assessed by myself and my wonderful editor. Here’s a link to the full press release, with more information. Also, you can email the organisers at Orbit: or

And in the meantime, here’s what some of the critics are saying about The Falcon Throne:

‘Blood, dirt and backstabbing . . . impressively elaborate and detailed . . . this dark world will draw you in’ (SCIFINOW)

 ‘A truly epic read full of intrigue and betrayal anchored in wonderful characters’ (John Gwynne, author of MALICE)

 ‘Complex and engrossing; fans of George R.R. Martin and Joe Abercrombie should particularly take note’ (PUBLISHERS WEEKLY)

 ‘It will entrap you and hold you captive, you will look up from its pages to discover you have lost hours’ (APN NETWORK)

 ‘The sheer scope and genius of this series dazzles… stylistically brilliant’ (SPECULATING ON SPECFIC)

 ‘Excellent writing, amazing characters, intricate woven plotlines, and lots and lots of blood, most of that unfortunately spurting from the wrong people. No elves or dragons, but some of the most in-depth world-building I’ve ever read, and the heroes (and anti-heroes) could shake themselves off the page. This book drew me in with the opening sentence and held me until the end . . . I remain breathless from the read’ (LIBRARY THING)

‘Fans of George R.R. Martin, Robert Jordan and other such writers of epic fantasy will find much to like here . . . a compelling read’ (READING LARK)

‘Miller’s numerous fans will definitely stay for the long haul’ (Sunday Canberra Times)

‘A major new epic fantasy begins’ (Queensland Times)

So now it’s really really done

I announced back in September that Prince of Glass was done, and it was more or less. In that I had done most of the book then outlined the last section before heading in for some surgery.

Post surgery things got a bit hinky and life issues got in the way and then more stupid health stuff happened and bottom line? Things dragged.

But now I can categorically and joyously announce that yes! Prince of Glass is complete and in with the publisher now. There will be a rewrite (which is far less painful than a first draft) and some tweaking and other procedural matters but very soon I will have a firm release date and then, all the gods willing, my life will return to its regularly scheduled routine.

I’ll have more to say on this entire experience soon. For now let me just say thank you. And I’m doing everything in my power to ensure the wait is worth it. Also I’ll be tackling the backlog of reader mail, which is … embarrassing.

I’m also starting to flesh out the outline for the next Rogue Agent novel. Stay tuned!

Prince of Glass draft is done

I’ll be more forthcoming soon. Right now I’m exhausted and must prepare for a small bit of surgery tomorrow. I just wanted to say that the preliminary draft of the book is completed. Two years ago last week my father died. If anyone had told me, before that event, that it would take nearly two years for me to get back to being myself, following the aftermath, I would have laughed at them. But it did. In fact, it’s taken closer to three years for me to reclaim my life, because before that was the accident that herniated two discs in my neck and sidelined me for nearly a year. And that led to me taking the drug Lyrica, which caused a mess of side effects I never anticipated and that continued to screw with my brain until only a couple of months ago.

Sheesh. Life. Don’t talk to me about life.

Anyhow. Like I said. More later, post surgery. For right now I can tell you that I’m back. For real. And let me tell you, it feels great.

Writer brain is back!

So, there’s this thing I call writer brain. That’s where, out of nowhere, characters start chatting with each other in my head … or plot solutions pop up waving streamers … or the rest of the world takes on a dreamy feeling while events in the book become crystal clear and sharp. That’s when I know my imagination is firing on all cylinders.

I haven’t felt that for a very very long time … until now!

Yeah, baby. It’s back.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. The relief is overwhelming. Like the song says … you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.

So here’s what I’ll say to you folk out there who are on this insane writing journey with me, and are going through a tough time. Hang in there. You can get through this. Don’t try to force it, be patient and kind with yourself. Writer brain comes back.

And most important of all?  No matter the crap you’re wading through – embrace it. Because at the end of the day it’s all good copy.

Welcome to 2018

I must have the most patient and truly compassionate readers in the world. Not a whisper of a new word on this blog for months, and you still write to me and read the books written so far. I officially have no words …

As you might know, over the past couple of years life has been entirely problematical for this writer. And when I say problematical, actually I mean totally, comprehensively cactus with bells on. Herniated cervical  and lumbar discs, nerve damage leading to no use of my left arm for a few months, obliterating medication side effects, medication-induced depression, the stress of moving house shortly followed by the stress of having to put down my beloved new horse, shortly followed by my father’s sudden death, which led to the stress of being executor to his very complicated estate and overnight becoming the director of five companies and head of a charitable foundation …

Okay, the last bit is not so bad. I get to give money to wonderful people like Assistance Dogs Australia, who are the unsung heroes of helpers forever in the Guide Dogs’ shadow. And I love them too, and we were able to help them out as well, which is one of the best privileges in the world.


In addition to the above mentioned physical challenges, you can add in chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, both of which are less appalling than they used to be but still must be carefully managed. Shockingly,  lots of stress is bad when you have these stupid conditions. To top it all off, a couple of months ago  I aI managed to get myself comprehensively concussed (which makes concussion #8, I believe) which meant an ambulance ride and a few weeks’ of la-la land while I recovered.

All of which is a very long-winded of way saying, yes I am horribly and humiliatingly behind schedule with the writing. To say I am struggling with this reality is an understatement. For the longest time I was completely on track with with my work. Now that I’m not, I am wrestling with a few demons. It sucks. What sucks the most, and the hardest, is knowing I have kept you all waiting for so long. All I can do is say sorry. It wasn’t the plan.

So much has happened, and so much of it has been horrible,  that for the longest time it’s been difficult to recognise myself. But the old me is re-emerging, and morphing into the new me – a better, stronger, happier me than ever before. I guess that’s life.

The good news is that I am now back on track. The Tarnished Crown bk 2 is tantalisingly close to being done and sent to my unbelievably long-suffering editor, and then I dive right into the next Rogue Agent adventure.

From the bottom of my heart I say thank you to everyone who is still with me on this journey. Stay tuned for more frequent and happier updates …

And may I say I wish for all of you the very best, the very brightest year ever!


Goodbye and good riddance, 2016

Yup, it’s been dead air for a while around here. Let me share with you the round-up for 2016.

In the last 12 months I’ve finally recovered from 2 herniated cervical discs and a jammed upper spine; moved house, after undertaking major renovations/remodelling to the new house so I could fit in there and write; sold a house; dealt with major damage to the old house after the big rainstorms in June, including the bloody NRMA; discovered that the neighbour at the new house has undertaken massive and illegal earthworks that have hugely and negatively impacted my property – and also learned that the council seems to be in no hurry to enforce its own rulings and regulations, so 2017 looks like containing a legal fight; realised that my lovely horse Steve had something truly wrong with him that might not be fixable; dealt with a few health relapses plus tendonitis/bursitis in both forearms/elbows; nearly lost new boy Misha to a serious bout of colic, that involved 3 days in hospital; struggled to get my writing mojo back; dealt with new baby filly’s virus picked up while travelling to me, which took months; dealt with her slashing her leg open so she had to be kept in a stable for a month; still dealing with the undesirable huge growth spurt she’s gone through (6 inches in 5 months) which has impacted her joints; finally faced the fact that Steve was unfixable and really, properly dangerous (after he nearly put me through a fence and seriously tried to kill one of the other horses here, as in teeth and hooves and a bent gate) so sent him to heaven; and of course, the big one, my father’s stroke and subsequent death which has left me with overwhelming life changes and responsibilities as his executor and heir.

Yeah. 2016 has been a year.

Looking ahead, I want to hold on to the good things of this year — the horses, the great new friends I’ve made, the promise of adventures to come. Despite everything I’ve managed to drop and keep off nearly 30 pounds, and I look forward to dropping the last 20-30, to achieve my fighting fit weight. I look forward to expanding my equestrian horizons, improve my riding, start competing, and enjoy the adventure with my other new boy, Goldweaver. His story to come.

My writing will at long last get back on track. I have been derailed for 2 years, physically, mentally and emotionally, and I’m only just beginning to understand how deep and harsh the impact has been. In the long run I’m sure the work will benefit, because it’s all good copy … but wow, it’s been rough. But that is now behind me!

I look forward to 2017 with a renewed sense of purpose and optimism. I am blessed with my circumstances, my friends, and my inner resources. There will be challenges, especially since I’m looking to deal with the winding up of my father’s estate, which is going to be time-consuming and confronting at times.

But I intend to achieve big things this year, and I look forward to celebrating the successes and achievements of my friends in real space and cyberspace. To those of you who have also faced a daunting 2016, I send my love and hugs. The fact that we’ve survived means we’ve earned a gold star.

Onward and upward! To infinity and beyond!

Dear readers, your ongoing support and patience throughout this writing drought is more appreciated than I can ever say. But I have picked myself up, dusted myself off and I look forward to bigger and better things!

Spotlight on … Dave DeBurgh

South African bookseller Dave DeBurgh, long time fan of all things speculative fiction, has recently seen the release of his debut epic fantasy novel. Here’s Dave in his own words, talking about his experiences as a first-time novelist …

DaveDeBurgh meWhen I began writing (and this may surprise you) it wasn’t because I wanted to write.

You see, there were two reasons I began writing – one was because I couldn’t draw or sketch well enough, and the second was because the only way I could truly try to explore the images and stories in my mind was by writing it all down.

Understand, it wasn’t what I was doing which was important or what drove me – it was what I was letting out.

And when I was trying to write what would eventually become “Betrayal’s Shadow” it was that push to release it all which still drove me. I was struggling – probably because I hadn’t made the decision to take what I was trying to do seriously; so I decided that taking a writing course was the next step, and it helped massively. I finished writing the first draft of the novel, which lead to that all important choice to take it seriously. And which also lead to me realising that I wanted to be a writer.

I’ve explained “Betrayal’s Shadow” in a lot of different ways to many different people over the years. One of these explanations was, “It’s an uncomplicated, less-dense combination of Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire, in terms that it has more magic than GRRM’s work, is as brutal in some sections as his, but also tells a sprawling tale more akin to Tolkien’s exploration of his worlds.”

Is that ambitious of me? Certainly, but it’s also what I believe the novel (and the trilogy, when it’s done) will be – well, one of the things.

I’ve also said that the novel is (surprise-surprise) about betrayal, and how betrayal casts shadows on many different people (in this case, characters) and that betrayal can follow down through the years (along with the immediate effects).

The novel is also an exploration of slavery, abuse, the dangers and pitfalls of love, how very easy it is unknowingly abuse trust and usurp the few good aspects of religion… And I didn’t set out to ‘explore’ all these aspects of society and life – not intentionally. Every time I try to make a character conform to the idea in my head, the character balks and does something different. So I let them do what they wanted to do, while keeping the plot and the novel’s climax in my head. In other words, I let them work their way towards it.

The plot itself will probably surprise you. “Betrayal’s Shadow” is not the kind of Epic or Heroic or High Fantasy novel you might expect it to be. It has elements of SF and Horror in it, too, since those are the other two genres I love reading.

One of the most compelling and formative things I’ve ever read is when Steven Erikson wrote that editors had told him that ‘Garden’s of the Moon’ was too ambitious, and sure, I might not be as ambitious yet (a ten-book saga is in me, somewhere, but I’m not yet the kind of writer and storyteller who can pull that off), but some readers have compared my novel to Erikson’s Malazan saga. I’m still smiling because of that.

So, in it’s own way, my novel is ambitious, and perhaps even brave. It was damned fun to write, though it was also damned difficult. It represents the beginning of my career as a storyteller and writer. It’s my leap into space.

I hope you enjoy it enough to catch me. 😉


And here’s all of Dave’s contact and book info:


Kindle edition Amazon UK:

Kindle edition Amazon US:

Limited Edition hardcover releasing on the 13th of January – pre-order link:

My official website:

My Facebook page:

My Twitter profile: D-B de Burgh (@DaveSASFFAuthor) | Twitter








Well, it has to be better than 2015!

You’ll note things have been pretty quiet around here. That’s because 2015 knocked me flat and kept me flat, almost to the very end. Not a good year on any front, really, and I can’t tell you how relieved I am that it’s in the rear view mirror!


New year, fresh start. I am still playing catch up with Tarnished Crown bk 2, which is going well in spite of all the health-related delays and setbacks. As soon as that’s handed in I’ll be romping with Gerald and Co. for the next Rogue Agent novel. After that, it’ll be finalising Tarnished Crown bk 2, then looking ahead to bk 3 and whatever’s coming next for the Rogue Agent universe.

This year promises to be quiet on the public appearance front, as I knuckle down and reclaim everything that got hammered last year. Writing, fitness, life stuff – all is up for renewal, replenishment and kicking into high gear. I’ll keep you updated.

In the meantime, I wish each and every one of you the most glorious new year, with much joy and achievement and a minimum of heartache.

2016? Bring it on!

Updating, and a recommendation

Slowly but surely, the words accumulate – and I remember how it feels to be a writer. Big smiles all around!

In other news, last night I finally caught up with one of my dearest friends in the world and got to show her one of my favourite ballet documentaries. Before a horrible injury she was a dancer, and still loves the art.

Born to be Wild is a fabulous doco featuring 4 principle male dancers from the American Ballet Theatre: Jose Manuel Carreno, Angela Corella, Vladimir Malakhov and Ethan Stiefel. 4 very different dancers, with intriguingly different backgrounds, but all equally and mind-blowingly talented.

If you love dance, if you love watching the guys do more than prop up the ballerinas in various poses, this is the ballet documentary for you. It’s available online from Amazon, but if you’re not in the US you’ll need a multi zone dvd player to watch it.

Because I keep showing this dvd to various friends, I’ve seen it multiple times — and I never get tired of it. These guys are super fabulous, super free of tedious ego shite, and a visceral pleasure to watch.


Here’s a really lovely Q&A I did!

The truly tedious thing about being unwell a lot is how fast so many things slip through the cracks. This being one of them! The lovely people at asked me if I’d participate in an author Q&A, and of course I said yes because there’s not much I love more than banging on about books and writing. They were great questions, I answered them as best I could, and I hope if you’re an aspiring writer you might find them helpful.

You can read the interview here.

A different kind of cop show

The other thing that happens when you fall over with a disgusting stomach/gut virus – apart from the obvious – is that you’re left stranded liked a beached whale, unable to do anything meaningful except watch some dvds. You can try reading, but for some reason that doesn’t always work out. Anyhow. A while ago, while ordering something else online, I saw another show highlighted. I’d never heard of it, but it sounded interesting so I ordered a copy. And while I was laid low with the disgusting stomach/gut virus, I watched it.

19-2 is a Canadian cop show. It was originally made in French, and then it got an English makeover. It’s set in Montreal, part of French-speaking Canada, which explains why. For those of us who watch shows filmed in Vancouver (mostly) there are some familiar faces in the cast, and as guest actors. Most notable of these is Adrian Holmes, who was Detective Lance’s partner for a while in Arrow.  The first season is out now on dvd, and the second season is about to be released. It’s been picked up for a third.

This is a fascinating series, because it has a very unAmerican cop show sensibility. Style-wise it’s approached like a documentary. There’s an edge, a rawness, to the camera work that’s really interesting, but it never gets in the way of the storytelling. (I really hated the stupid idea in Southland where the soundtrack bleeped out the cops swearing. Way to interrupt the narrative, guys. Way to be pretentious!) It’s a very personal, often in-your-face kind of narrative. It’s also pretty bleak. The story weaves its way in and out of the cops’ professional and personal lives, but it never feels like soap opera. In that sense, it’s pretty much the diametric opposite of another recent Canadian cop show, Rookie Blue.

I’m thinking that if you’re a fan of darker fare, stuff like The Wire, you might well enjoy 19-2. And even if bleak isn’t really your thing, I’d say give it a go anyway. The writing and acting are top notch – and it’s always an excellent adventure, exploring different takes on a familiar – and some might say – overdone genre. In fact, I think that writers should make a point of watching a bunch of different shows in the same genre, and noting how each narrative handles the demands of that genre. What works, what doesn’t, and how those lessons can be applied to our own work.

I bought 19-2 from Amazon UK. When you buy from overseas you need a multi zone dvd player, remember!

Here are some great books to read

I’m often asked which books and/or authors are my favourites, or have influenced my writing in some way. There is always a standout answer: the late Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles – a 6 book historical series that is pretty much the benchmark of excellence for the genre. Nobody, but nobody, is in Dunnett’s league. If you love great fiction, especially historical fiction, and you haven’t read this series? You’re missing out an amazing experience. The first book in the series is The Game of Kings. I urge you to get a copy and be ensnared in brilliance.

But Dunnett also wrote a mystery series, known as the Dolly series. It was called that because the main character, Johnson, owns a yacht called Dolly, and he travels the world in it painting portraits – for which he’s famous. However, there is more to Johnson than a paintbrush, which is where the mystery element comes in.

What’s remarkable about the Dolly series is that each book is told from a first person narrator perspective, and each time the narrator is a different woman whose life intersects with Johnson’s – with not always happy results. It means that we learn about Johnson second-hand, and each character reveals something new and different about him. Reading the series is like putting together a Johnson jigsaw puzzle, and it’s truly fascinating. It’s also a masterclass in writing. Reading Dunnett is like that – you learn so much about writing from reading her extraordinary novels. Each narrator is a distinctly different person, with a unique voice, which is reflected in every element of the narrative.

If you like the mystery genre, and enjoy strongly character-driven storytelling, I can’t recommend the Dolly books highly enough. You can find them online at reasonable 2nd hand prices. I’ve just replaced a few of my own that were falling apart and it hasn’t broken the bank.

Start with Dolly and the Bird of Paradise. That’s the first book, and it sets the series up really well.

Back on the horse, again.

When the history of this year is written, at least from my point of view,  it will contain an astonishing amount of screaming and obscenities. I’m back on my feet again after 10 days of a truly gross stomach/gut virus that saw me in hospital undergoing many tedious tests. I managed to avoid cameras in unfortunate places, but only just. After 5 days of not being able to eat anything, I was able to eat rice crackers and not much else. It all sucked. This year has done pretty much nothing but be sucky. I’m over it.

But! I am back at the computer again, writing. The words are good. I am catching up, slowly. Please cross your fingers for me that I am now totally done with getting sick or injured, for the foreseeable future!!!!

A quick update

First of all, helloooooo! to the lovely folk who’ve recently signed up to follow this blog. Thank you!

Now, I’m doing my best to keep up with stuff but juggling everything while trying to get my writing groove back is proving to be a bit of a challenge. Keeping up with social media is driving me nuts. I appreciate your patience, and in the meantime I’d say you might also like to hook up with my FB author page, if you haven’t done so already. Right now that’s pretty much the only attention span I have left! Give me a little longer and I’ll be ready to start going into more in-depth blog posts.

What I can say is that the groove is almost properly back, the words are flowing faster and more smoothly, I’m very happy with how it’s going and I’m doing my level best to pick up the pace.

Thanks for hanging in there with me, guys.

Here’s the link to my FB page!

Some musings on the way things are going

As I think most of you know by now, 2015 hasn’t been a great year for me. In a nutshell, after I came home from the UK (this time last year!!!!) I had a few little health hiccups that road-blocked my game plan for the next book. Then, just as I was revving up again, in early December  I had a tumble on my mother’s very steep driveway.

Read on …

Continue reading

Life imitates art imitates life

Last week I finally got around to doing a big chore, that I’d been putting off — namely, clearing out all the tv shows stacked up on my dvd recorder. Of course, the only reason I got off my arse and did it is because I had almost no space left. But hey. At least I did it. *g*

60 hours of history docos and whatnot later, and this afternoon (after finishing another chapter, woo hoo!) I finished labelling the recordings I couldn’t label at the time. And so I discovered one I recorded about Sir Flinders Petrie: The Man Who Discovered Egypt. Basically, Petrie invented modern archeology. It was his pupil, Howard Carter, who discovered Tutankhamen’s tomb. Everything we take for granted about modern scientific method in the field is because Petrie set it up that way. He was extraordinary. Also stunningly eccentric. No spoilers, just … wait till you find out what happened when he died!

The reason I recorded this doco isn’t because I’m a huge Egypt buff. Oddly enough, for all my fascination with various ancient civilisations, I’m not. But I did know his name thanks to the wonderful Amelia Peabody books, written by the late, great Elizabeth Peters. (The first book is The Crocodile on the Sandbank. It’s the most wonderful historical mystery series set in Egypt, starting around the late 1800s. It’s history and mystery and romance and humour rolled into one glorious procession of books. I can’t recommend them highly enough.) Anyhow, Petrie figures as a character in many of the Peabody books and today I finally got around to watching this doco about his life.

It’s fabulous. And it’s also extremely amusing, because now I can see where Peters, herself an archeologist, used a lot of stuff about Petrie and his wife as inspiration for the Peabody books.

So there you go. Read the books, and watch the doco about Petrie if you can track it down. Fabulous, fascinating stuff! And the next time I’m in London, I’ll be making a stop at the Petrie Museum! And going back to the British Museum to pay closer attention to the Roman mummies Petrie found. The portraits attached to the outside of the mummy casings – used instead of mummy masks – are breathtaking. I’ve never seen anything like them. The best of those are in the Cairo museum, so … yeah. Hopefully they’re being kept safe. But there are some in London. Wheee!

An important request

As you guys know, I really don’t do political stuff. Life is too short for crap on the internet. But this one is not politics. It’s human rights. Please, look at what’s happening in India, and spread the word to everyone you know that this kind of bullshit has to stop. All decent human beings must be appalled in their souls that this could happen. It has to stop. And it’s going to take all decent people screaming at the top of their lungs to stop it.

In short, two sisters in India have been sentenced to rape and public degrading to punish their brother. You can read about it here. And you can sign the Amnesty International petition protesting it here.

We live in a world where ISIS murders gays and rapes children sold into sexual slavery. For some reason our governments can’t find the courage or the will to halt this evil while it’s still relatively contained. We also live in a world where men sentence women to be raped, to punish another man. There are days when I feel like I’m drowning in depravity. Signing a petition, and drawing attention to this evil, helps me to be less helpless. Please spread the word. Good people can’t do nothing for much longer, else we all drown in the worst of human excess.

Random stuff

So this is me, keeping my word to be more present in my own space.

Right now I’m haunting the post office for my copy of Kate Elliott’s new book, Court of Fives. It’s her first YA fantasy, and I have no doubt it’s going to be a brilliant read. Because Kate Elliott is a brilliant writer. For more information and some great interviews, you can go here.

I’ve really got nothing to say about the recent Hugo awards, but one thing. I find it utterly shameful that Toni Weisskopf was denied recognition for her stellar work as an editor because a bunch of folk – many of whom claim to be professional writers – decided that anyone who was nominated by people they don’t like should be punished. I feel sick, and so angry, that the folk who dishonestly accused the Puppy side of misogyny should take out their spite on a woman. I wonder if they’ve even met the word ‘irony’?

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, I got all super excited about getting back my fitness. And then I fell over in my mother’s driveway last December and 2015 happened. One of these days I might write more about the things I’ve learned since. For right now, I’ll just celebrate the fact that I can walk for an hour on the treadmill, and lift some weights, and my world doesn’t end. Yay!

Must beetle off now. Stay tuned!

Not dead yet …

Well, I have to tell you, cranking my way back up to writing speed is bloody hard work! But I’m finally hitting my groove, at long last, after months and months of utter hell. I now have the all clear on the neck and upper back, after a couple of frustrating relapses. Then, because of course, the lower lumbar spine (scene of a previous disc rupture and several herniations) decided to kick off. But that too is now sorted. I just have to keep monitoring it due to spinal scoliosis and a history of truly spectacular horse-riding injuries. I defeated the double-whammy flu, too, and finally got rid of the lingering spastastic cough. Which actually re-herniated a disc in my neck, I was coughing so hard at the worst.

But like I said. There are words. And now I must write like a crazy woman. There is also exercise, and I’m being consistent and also careful. So, as spring hovers on the horizon, and I look back at the last many months of zero achievement, I start to feel optimistic again.

I might even get my shit together and get more active in this here blog!

Stay tuned …

Karen’s Ask Me Anything on Reddit …

Tomorrow is the Reddit AMA which I’m doing in conjunction with the Orbit fantasy writing workshop. If you’re as unfamiliar with Reddit as I was before now, you can relax. It’s actually pretty easy.

If you’re already a Reddit member, sign in to the Fantasy bulletin board – the BB. If you’re not, you can sign up with a new membership first then go to the Fantasy BB. On the right hand side of the Fantasy BB is a list of upcoming AMAs. Click on my name, and you’ll get into my AMA where you can post a question for me to answer, or just read what other people have to say.

Here is the schedule:

9pm Sydney time (12midday London time/7am New York time/4am California time) – I log on and begin answering questions until midnight Sydney time (3pm London time/10am New York Time/7am California time.)

I sleep until 30th July 7am Sydney time (9pm London time/4pm New York Time/1pm California time) and then to log in to finish answering questions.

Here is the link to the Reddit Fantasy BB.

Guest Post: David B. Coe

David B. Coe is another fantasy author whom I met through the work before meeting him in person. I have the clearest memory of reading and recommending David’s books when I had my bookshop. Imagine my joy (and relief!) when I discovered he is a truly lovely guy as well as an entertaining writer. I have read Spell Blind,  the first book in his new urban fantasy series, and it’s a great addition to the genre, highly recommended. It now gives me great pleasure to share this Q&A David and I did recently, to celebrate the upcoming release of his two new books: His Father’s Eyes (August 4) and Dead Man’s Reach (out now) … DBJacksonPubPhoto800

Tell us about your love affair with speculative fiction: when it started, how it’s progressed over the years, which books, authors and experiences have influenced you throughout your career. I was eleven years old and attending a sleepaway summer camp. My parents thought I would enjoy doing theater and so I tried out for a play with a weird name and got the lead part playing a character who had an even weirder name. The play was a dramatization of The Hobbit, and I, of course, played Bilbo Baggins. I loved the role and the story, and upon returning home started reading the book. By the time I’d finished, I was hooked. I read Lord of the Rings, next and knew then that I wanted to read as much fantasy as possible. A few years later, I read Stephen R. Donaldson’s first Thomas Covenant trilogy, and realized that I wanted to spend my life writing fantasy. The books were so strange and dark; the lead character both repelled and intrigued me. I was fascinated by the possibilities. If Donaldson could do this with his series, what might I do with books of my own? I’ve since fallen in love with the books of Guy Gavriel Kay. I think he is the author who has most influenced my work stylistically. I could go on. I have so many friends who write professionally, and I’ve read so much terrific speculative fiction over the years. But really those are the three who shaped my professional development the most: Tolkien, Donaldson, and Kay. You started out writing otherworldly/epic fantasy. What was the attraction there? In what ways did those stories scratch your storytelling itch? I think in large part it was the influence of those three authors I just mentioned. The works that informed my creative ambitions were also epic, alternate world fantasies, and so that was what I wanted to write. Early on, I never even considered writing anything else. My heroes wrote epic, so I would, too. It helped that before embarking on my writing career, I had earned a doctorate in history. I understood how history worked, how economies, cultures, and societies developed. My degree was in environmental history, and so I even had a sense of how the physical terrain and climate of a nation might shape the human institutions that grew up in that setting. I felt comfortable creating worlds for my stories, and I was eager to see what I might come up with as I blended my historical background with my passion for magic and fantasy. Tell us about the series you’re writing under your pen name D. B. Jackson. How did the spark of that series ignite, what enchants you about it, why do you think readers will enjoy it, and what can we look forward to in the latest installment? deadmansreachAs D.B. Jackson, I write the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy set in Boston during the 1760s and 1770s, on the eve of the American Revolution. Ethan Kaille, my lead character, is a conjurer and a thieftaker, the 18th century equivalent of a private detective. Each book is a stand-alone mystery blended with some key historical event, with a little bit of magic thrown in — so again, I get to blend my love of history and my love of fantasy. This newest installment, Dead Man’s Reach, coincides with the Boston Massacre in March 1770. The books are tremendous fun to write, in part because of the challenge each represents. My goal is to blend my fictional elements — my characters and magic system, the murder mysteries and narratives — with actual historical happenings, in a way that seems completely natural and seamless. I don’t want my readers to know where the history ends and the fiction begins. The inspiration for the series actually came to me years ago, as my wife and I were preparing to live in Australia for a year. I read Robert Hughes’ fine history of Australia, The Fatal Shore, which traced Australia’s origins as a penal colony. In the early chapters, while discussing the British law enforcement system of the 18th century, he went on at some length about thieftakers and some of the colorful and corrupt personalities who roamed the streets of London “solving” crimes. I knew then that I wanted to write books about thieftakers. It took a few years — I had another series to write — but eventually I came back to that inspiration and wrote Thieftaker, the first book in the series. The rest, as they say, is history. You’ve also got a new series started in your David Coe persona: this time urban fantasy. What prompted the shift to this subgenre? Tell us about the different demands of writing urban fantasy, compared with epic fantasy and alternate history fantasy. What delights you about this series? hisfatherseyesYes, under my own name I am writing a contemporary urban fantasy series called The Case Files of Justis Fearsson. Again, I get to mix magic and mystery in a series of stand-alones, which I really enjoy. The magic system in this one is different from anything I’ve done before. My lead character, Justis Fearsson, is a weremyste. Every month on the full moon, and the nights just before and after, he loses control of his mind and his magic. And slowly, these moon phasings, as they’re called, are driving him permanently insane, just as they did his father, who is also a character in the series. These books are the first novel length works I’ve written in first person, and I just love the voice of the series. Part of that is the fact that they’re set in our world and in our time. For once, I get to write books about people driving cars, using modern technology, speaking in a modern, natural lexicon. It was very freeing, which was the whole point. I started writing these because I wanted to change things up a bit, to try something new. I like jumping around among different subgenres. I think it keeps my writing fresh. It certainly keeps me from ever feeling bored with my work. I’ll go back and write more epic and more historical, but these books have been tremendous fun. The newest volume, His Father’s Eyes, which comes out on August 4, includes a chapter from the perspective of Jay’s delusional father that may well be the best piece of writing I’ve ever done. ***** David B. Coe/D.B. Jackson is the award-winning author of eighteen fantasy novels. Under the name D.B. Jackson, he writes the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy from Tor Books that includes Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, A Plunder of Souls, and, the newest volume, Dead Man’s Reach, was released on July 21. Under his own name, he writes The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, a contemporary urban fantasy from Baen Books. The first volume, Spell Blind, debuted in January 2015. The newest book in the series, His Father’s Eyes, comes out on August 4. He lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.

Supanova, and what came next

So, the last two weekends of June were swallowed alive by the amazing Supanova Expos in Sydney and then Perth. I had the most fabulous time, meeting and chatting with extraordinary people. We all worked pretty hard (though the actors sweated the most!) and I thought I was doing pretty well keeping the winter lurgies at bay. I flew home from Perth on the Sunday night, the red eye, and immediately had a sleep. I hadn’t slept on the plane.

And then I woke up.

It’s now been a week of fighting a seriously crappy attack of bronchitis. I’ve had to upscale the antibiotics from normal to double-dose supercharged and even then I’m not entirely sure it’s working. I’m a bit better but I’m not great. Of course, I could be expecting too much too soon. I can’t tell you how sick I am of being unwell. I’ll reconsider my position towards the end of the week. Hopefully I’ll be functional enough tomorrow to get back to some work. Up until today it’s been a case of coughing myself dizzy and sleeping  in between bouts.

There’s a lot I do want to say about the experience, particularly some of the guest authors who were amazing – as were many of the guest actors.

Cross your fingers for me that the super drugs do a super job so I can crack on with the work. I have an exciting announcement to make in the next day or so, once the final organisational Is are dotted and Ts crossed.

Stay tuned …

Researching people

Boiled down to basics, there are two kinds of research a writer does before and even during a novel. The first is getting the world building right. Even a contemporary thriller requires some research. The late great Dick Francis meticulously researched for his novels, because even though he’d lived all the horse racing stuff his books were set in disparate and fascinating worlds: merchant banking, luxury rail travel, the wine-selling business, the stock market. Writers of private eye or police procedural novels need to know the ins and outs of the law and criminal investigations. And of course those of us who revel in speculative fiction, be it space travel or how to mount a siege on a walled town, spend months up to our eyeballs in history books and documentaries.

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Karen at Sydney Supanova

So, I’m appearing as one of the guests at the upcoming Supanova events in Sydney and Perth. Very exciting, I will probably turn into a squeeing fangirl. *g*

For a full rundown of all the amazing people attending as guests, and all the venue facts, check out this link. Right now I only have firm info for my Sydney schedule, so here you go.

I will be doing a couple of panels: a Star Wars panel at 3.30 on Saturday and a fantasy literature panel on Sunday at 11 am. I’ll also be available in the signing area Friday afternoon and most of the weekend. Probably the best times to catch me there will be from 11 am to 3 pm Saturday and from 1 pm Sunday.

Hope to see you there!


Doubt and the Writer

I was intending to do this as one of the writing podcasts but I’m fighting against another return of the Vile Lurgy, so to spare you my coughs and splutters I’ll do it as a regular blog post.

Recently I received a lovely email from reader Alyssa, who asked me what advice I’d give to aspiring writers about the demon of self-doubt and the need for external validation of the work. It’s a great question, and I wanted to answer it in a more public forum because I’m pretty sure Alyssa’s not the only writer who sometimes struggles with these issues.

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The Falcon Throne in paperback!

I’m thrilled to announce that The Falcon Throne, book 1 in The Tarnished Crown series, has been released in paperback in the US and UK. It’s a big book, a big series, and I’m having the time of my life writing it. If you weren’t able to read it in hardcover, I hope you can in this new paperback edition – and that you enjoy it!

(If you’re an Australian fan, I’m afraid there’s a little more waiting to do. July 1st is the local release date!)

Falcon Throne_B Uk final-1250x822

Yes, there has indeed been a long and deafening silence

Because honestly, the whole ongoing spinal drama has knocked me sideways. Nearly 7 months of constant screaming blowtorch pain, and multiple weekly medical appointments, and handfuls of drugs, and mostly poor sleep, and freaking out over all the work not getting done …

It’s been a challenge. But hooray! I am now released from multiple weekly physio appointments, the drug regimen is winding down, the pain is all but gone, there is still chiro and massage but they are manageable and I have a functioning brain again. Which means I can think straight to write and move well enough to go back to the beginning, again, with the fitness program.

In the meantime, though, as I get myself organised for life as I used to live it, enjoy this great interview with Australian spec fic author Thoraiya Dyer, who’s just made her first novel sale.

Read about it here!

Guest Post: Lucy Hounsom

Starborn cover   It’s now my great pleasure to introduce Lucy Hounsom and her debut fantasy novel, Starborn. This is the first in a new trilogy.

LucyHounsomLucy works for Waterstones Booksellers in London, and has a BA in English & Creative Writing from Royal Holloway. She went on to complete an MA in Creative Writing under Andrew Motion in 2010. She lives in Devon.
Here’s Lucy in her own words …
“Both the characters and the central idea that drives Starborn have been around for a long time. I wrote the first chapter over ten years ago as a naïve seventeen year old and then set the story aside when I went to university. But it bubbled away beneath the surface, never leaving me alone, until I knew that I had to write it even if it never got published. That’s the thing about stories – they beg to be told, to be shared and this one is a culmination of everything I’ve ever loved about fantasy. Books by authors like Tolkien, Robin Hobb, Patricia McKillip Ursula Le Guin and countless others made being an awkward teenager bearable, and at the same time convinced me that I wanted to write too. The idea that people could enjoy my stories in the same way is part of why I write. To create a world so immersive that it’s able to sweep you away for a time – that’s my goal. And fantasy is a wonderful cloth to weave; its threads are rich and steeped in history. It’s able to express archetypes in a way quite unlike any other literary genre. To me, writing and fantasy are seamlessly interwoven and in all honesty I’m not sure I could write anything else. So what do I love about this genre? The worldbuilding for starters – I love exploring worlds so like and unlike our own. In those worlds, the impossible becomes the possible, lands are populated with strange peoples and creatures, and there’s an overriding sense of the epic – the struggle that so defines our race. I love the characters we meet in fantasy, the heroes, the antiheroes, the villains, the rogues, the innocents. When we read a story, we automatically become the protagonist; we suffer through their trials, we’re with them when they fall in love, we look out of their eyes at the unfolding of events. When it comes to character, traditionally fantasy has drawn rather distinct lines between ‘good’ and ‘evil’; the hero is often Campbellian, the villain his recognisable opposite. While movements like grimdark have turned that tradition on its head, I set out with a different aim, which was to tell a story that explored heroism as a concept instead of a given trait. I started with the phrase, ‘one man’s heroism is another man’s tyranny’ and thought about the subjectivity that statement embodies. It suggests heroism is defined by context and individual perspective, instead of objective characteristics. The crux of Starborn – as Kyndra, my protagonist, comes to discover – hinges on the actions of one man, whose crowning achievement makes him a saviour in some eyes and a monster in others. It’s up to the reader to decide which he is, or even whether it matters to the histories. This discussion provides the background context for Kyndra herself. I wanted to move away from the established rendering of the Garion[1]-type hero as a hard-working, honest sort, instead drawing Kyndra as she would more likely be, living in a small community: sheltered, idealistic, stubborn. We are shaped by our childhood and our childhood environment and our earliest experiences colour everything we do. Kyndra has an unbelievably long journey ahead of her, which changes her more than she could ever imagine, so I wanted her to retain the roots of her thinking, to see the world – rightly or wrongly – through the eyes of someone who has grown up in an isolated community at peace. The very concept of war is alien to her, as are the attitudes that foster it, and she struggles to understand the divisions responsible for fragmenting a society. When you want to explore a particular subject, I think it’s important to have a recognisable base as reference, so there’s a lot you’ll find familiar about Starborn. It’s a rite of passage novel where the protagonist is living an ordinary life in a small corner of the world, but is inevitably swept up in wider events. Kyndra learns what it means to take control of those events instead of letting them steer her course and she comes face to face with the idea of destiny and what it might require of her. Of course Starborn is also full of magic, mysterious citadels, buried truths and unresolved conflicts – all the elements that make epic fantasy such fun to read and write. I love this genre for its possibilities, its powerful nostalgia for bygone eras. I love its various characters and settings, from dragons to sorcerers to epic battles. Fantasy allows us to ask poignant questions about society while sweeping us off on an epic journey with people in whom we can see ourselves. I’ve just finished the first draft of Book Two, where Kyndra and her companions encounter a host of new challenges. I always envisioned the series as a trilogy, so that the characters I’ve come to love have room to grow and time in which to tell their stories, and I can’t wait to share them with you.” [1] The hero of The (excellent ) Belgariad by David Eddings
Starborn is available now in-store and online. If you enjoy fantasy adventure with a strong female central character, some mystery and some romance, give it a read!

The Falcon Throne paperback: Giveaway!

Well, the paperback edition of The Falcon Throne, book 1 in The Tarnished Crown series, is due to hit bookshelves in the real world and in cyberspace very soon. So I’d like to celebrate by offering 3 copies as giveaway prizes. All you need to do is send me an email via the Contact button on this website, and you’ll go into the draw. Good luck!


The Books for All initiative

The US government is launching a new program called Books for All. Its purpose is to make free ebooks and ebook readers available to kids from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. It’s a great idea and I hope it really takes off.

My parent publisher, Hachette, has included The Innocent Mage in the first round of books being made available. This makes me so pleased, I can’t tell you! If you’re on Twitter (I’m not, I have enough trouble keeping up with a blog!) it would be great if you could pass along the news.

So, that happened.

Went to bed Sunday night feeling fine. Woke up Monday morning feeling not so fine, with a swift and depressing slide into Oh shit, are you kidding me? Yes, my 7th cervical disc had herniated again. This time with a side order of something hinky happening in the cervical/thoracic junction. Yay! So this week has not been spent writing, it has been spent in pretty much non-stop pain from a non-functioning left arm, with physio, chiro and massage therapy, plus many many many drugs. But I can report that today, things are much improved. I even cautiously hope I can get back to proper work tomorrow.

I’m pissed, Roger. Now I’m really pissed.

On the other hand, I am thrilled because I’ve been invited to join the author stream at Supanova in Sydney and Perth. Stay tuned for more details on that!

Now I must get a hot water bottle onto my lumbar spine (because that’s going out on strike in sympathy) and take more drugs!

Music for the soul: Witness

Witness is one of my favourite films. For me, it’s a perfect little gem. It also showcases just how great an actor Harrison Ford is. He was nominated for an Oscar for his role as John Book. So deserved. After that he delivered an even more extraordinary performance in Mosquito Coast. And then, I don’t know what happened. Maybe he decided he’d rather star in the big bucks blockbusters than the performance perfect films that didn’t reach such a wide audience. But if you’ve not seen either of those films, I think you must. He really is terrific.

Probably the most iconic (or second most iconic!) scene in Witness is the barn building sequence. When you watch it (again) pay special attention to Ford. He is a professional carpenter as well as an actor, and you can tell from the way he handles the hammer and stuff. You can’t fake genuine expertise.

The music for Witness was composed by Maurice Jarre, and he used a synthesiser to create the sharply modern soundscape as a contrast to the out of time Amish community. The barn raising sequence music is pretty famous, and with good reason. Following the template of Pachelbel’s Canon, it builds and builds to its crescendo. Wonderful.

What I didn’t realise for a long time, until I stumbled across a movie soundtrack cd of Ford’s movies, is there is an orchestral arrangement of the barn building theme. It is one of my absolute favourite pieces of music, soundtrack or otherwise. So achingly beautiful. Only John William’s music touches me as profoundly.

Have a listen and tell me if you feel the same way.