Warbird is live!

I’ve been threatening you with my huge space opera, Warbird, for some time, but now it’s available in paperback, the first print offering from Cathaven Press.

It’s the story of the TSCV Vienna, an innovative space craft that can travel very rapidly across the galaxy, leaping through voidspace. On her maiden voyage the crew of the Vienna find a wrecked alien vessel and rescue its three occupants. First contact is going swimmingly, until Space Corps recall them to known space. A human colony has been attacked, leaving thousands dead, and Vienna’s crew find themselves on the wrong side of an interstellar war. The stakes are high as both races have terrible weapons that can devastate planets, so our heroes must find a way to stop the conflict before that happens.

The book is written in first person and is a head-hopping novel with chapters given to six different characters. Much of the book is told from the perspective of Rachel Murray, commander of the Vienna. She has flashes of precognition even though she’s sceptical of such outlandish psychic abilities. Quinn Gresham, captain of the starship, has other chapters, and we also hear from Dr Christopher Brennan, head of the team which designed and built the Vienna, Lieutenant Commander Benjamin Ede, Rachel’s boyfriend, Lieutenant Carla Villeneuve, communications officer on the Vienna’s Bridge, and Dr Lyn Sawyer, a linguist directed to compile a dictionary of the alien language. The aliens themselves are pretty neat – well, I would say that, wouldn’t I? After all, I created them.

Lurking behind the human characters is Warbird, the AI that runs the ship. It sees and hears everything and although it strenuously denies it, has a distinct sense of humour.

For those of you who are sensitive about such things there’s a fair bit of sex and a lot of swearing in this book. I wouldn’t recommend it for kids. Vienna’s Chief Engineer, Mark Wilder is particularly foul-mouthed. Sometimes characters do stuff that the author hadn’t intended, so you have to run with it!

Warbird is available from Amazon UK for £12.95 – we tried to keep the price down, but it’s almost 500 pages. Amazon US has it for around $16. The cover is by Adam Benet Shaw, who did several of my covers at Pro Se, and there’s a gorgeous frontispiece by the much acclaimed and award-winning artist, Jim Pitts. The e-book is in preparation and should be up in about a week.


This Writing Life

I went to Fantasycon by the Sea, which was in Scarborough at the end of September. I’d never been to the town before – it’s delightful. We stayed at the Grand Hotel, a slightly faded Victorian gem with wonderful views of the bay and harbour. Although the weather forecast was cloudy with some rain, we had a very sunny weekend. We met up with a lot of old friends and found some new ones. I was particularly glad to see Irene Soldatos and Harriet Goodchild, who I’ve known since the old Authonomy days but had never met before in the flesh. They were there promoting their books, Irene’s Bad Bishop, and Harriet’s The Crooked Path, which had only just come out.

I went to some panels, the Elizabeth Bear and Frances Hardinge interviews, and even did a reading from Dead Men. As usual, the reading venue was tucked well away from most of the con, and I only got an audience of eight. We did sell a few books over the weekend, so that was a bonus.

I’m trying to do more readings. Like most authors I suspect, I’m not a natural performer and I find it hard to read my stuff out loud in public. I used to hate reading around the class at school (we even had to do it in French once!) and I was usually several chapters ahead, and so had to stumble back to the right place when my turn came, but these are my stories, so I ought to be able to tell them. A friend has organised a monthly reading evening in a local pub – it’s called Fiction Fix. Here’s a link to a report on her website from the first one, with incriminating photos! I’ve done two readings there so far, and although the venue isn’t ideal and I struggle with using a microphone, it’s good practice. I found that the Anna and Zenni books are difficult to read from, due to the telepathic conversations that make much more sense on the page. Last time I read from The Third Worst Thing That Can Happen On Mars, and I found Vonnie’s voice was much easier to do.

The next date is November 6th, so if you’re near Peterborough, drop into the Draper’s Arms at about 8 pm. I plan to read something from my unpublished space opera, Warbird, which is waiting for a cover and will probably appear next year.

In other news, The Spook and the Spirit in the Stone is due to come out in print and e-book from Pro Se Press soon. I’m waiting for the galleys and to see the cover. I’ll post updates here.

Have Yourself A Very Merry Solstice

I don’t really do Xmas. When I was at the lab I was always annoyed by all the smug crowing of those who weren’t working between Xmas Eve and January 2nd, while we were lucky to get Xmas Day and Boxing Day off (and some of us didn’t, having to go in to tend the bugs or provide on-call cover). I don’t respond well to the constant demands to be jolly and spend, spend, spend. This year I sent out a few cards, bought a few presents and replaced the dead fern in the bathroom with an attractive mottled Poinsettia. In keeping with my Pagan beliefs, I do indulge in some festive eating and drinking, although Xmas dinner will be a quiet affair, and a sad reminder of family members missing from the table.

So, to all my readers, do have a very happy Xmas or Solstice or whatever seasonal event you choose to celebrate, and may good fortune fly with you in the New Year.

As a Solstice gift to all of you, I’ve changed the excerpt on the Warbird page to Chapter Ten of the lengthy space-opera, the bit where the crew of the Vienna have a first contact with a non-humanoid race. Please enjoy!

Blog Maintenance

I’d previously added one of my Poltergeist: the Legacy fanfics, The Harrowing of Hell, to the site, but hadn’t read all the way through the page. Bad mistake. At almost 65000 words, it’s practically a novel, and the nice light background runs out long before the end*, making it very difficult to read. My apologies to anyone who struggled through it. If you did finish it, you deserve the highest accolade known to man which, according to a dear friend of mine, is an OBE and a Curly Wurly.

As a bonus, I’ve swapped the content on the Warbird page. It now has Chapter One, and I may post other chapters later, just for fun.


*This still happens if you enlarge the text. Sorry about that, but I’m not sure I can fix it for all sizes of text.

Lovely shiny new review!

Just got another wonderful review from the BFS for my novel, To Die A Stranger. It’s full of glorious bits that I could use as cover blurb on the paperback edition, which I plan to bring out soon. Here’s a link to my page for the book, with buying info.

I was really worried when I knew that TDAS might be reviewed. The Anna & Zenni books are a major part of my work, and there are a lot of them, so I needed their first outing to be appealing. I apologise for the pantomime villains – blame that on watching too much Man from UNCLE, The Avengers, The Champions and The Prisoner as a child!