Where Next?

With the release of The First Blade of Ostia, I plan on moving to a different part of the Middle Sea World to explore for my next few books. The Empire didn’t swallow up the entire world, even at its peak, and the other side of its ancient borders is where the next trilogy will start off. It’s a place where magic and the gods are viewed as one and the same; a place where men still believe they walk the land.

From a writing perspective, it’s been a really fun way to look at some of the Middle Sea concepts from a completely different perspective, and also a great chance to really expand on the world I’ve created, to give it more depth, character, and colour. The first book of this series is with my long suffering alpha readers at the moment, and the second is well under way. I’ll reveal more about this series in coming weeks, as it will be my focus for 2015.

For those who enjoyed the setting of the Society of the Sword books, worry not! That part of the world is still very much open for business, and I have a further series plotted out that will take place in those regions, and focus on a more minor character from the Society trilogy who seems to have been pretty popular. He’s certainly one of my favourites, and I was constantly looking for ways to give him a more prominent role. He’ll finally be taking centre stage in this series, and working through his backstory has been a huge amount of fun. That’s all I’m giving away about that for now!

I hope everyone has had a good start to 2015!

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Things I watched over Christmas

My Christmas viewing revolved around a few box sets and some stuff on Netflix. First off was an A/B session of ‘Borgia’ and ‘The Borgias’. Coming to the European-made Borgia from the US-made The Borgias was a bit jarring, and initially I wasn’t at all impressed with the former. I like Jeremy Irons as an actor, and think he’s one of those actors who has gravitas to burn. However, after a few episodes, I thought John Doman—despite an American accent I gather a great many viewers were put off by—was far better suited to the role of Rodrigo Borgia/Pope Alexander VI. As my esteem for him grew, so to did my opinion of Borgia as a whole.

The supporting cast were excellent, if they can be called that. Any of the major parts, from Cesare and Lucrezia to Alessandro and Giulia Farnese, could be considered leading players. Across the board, I thought the actors in Borgia were far stronger, and far better suited to the parts they played.

Both shows portrayed the period well, although once again I felt Borgia got it a bit closer to the mark. I like watching shows like this in an attempt to immerse myself into that atmosphere, as it is, broadly speaking, the period that the Middle Sea world is set in at the time of The Tattered Banner and The First Blade of Ostia. My inspiration files for weapons, clothes, and architecture are filled with pictures of things from the 1450-1650 period.

Overall, I think both series are worth watching, but if you only have time for one, I’d go with Borgia. This is the area of history that most interests me, and I can definitely see myself watching Borgia again in the not too distant future.

I also watched the new Netflix show ‘Marco Polo’ which I really enjoyed. We go from an area of history that I know quite a bit about, to one I know very little about. I’ve not made anything more than a cursory reading of Asian and Mongol history, which is something I’m going to have to rectify this year, as it really is fascinating. A very good show, with solid acting across the board—I thought Benedict Wong playing Kublai Khan was particularly excellent—and one which I’m eagerly anticipating the second season of.

I have the first season of the recent BBC version of The Three Musketeers next in the queue, which I’m looking forward to. I’ve mentioned before I think that The Three Musketeers is one of my favourite stories, so I’m interested to see what they do with it. From the bits I’ve seen, it looks pretty encouraging.

As a reminder, there are still signed copies of The First Blade of Ostia up to be won over on Goodreads. You can enter the competition by clicking here.

Well, I hope everyone had a great Christmas, and is having a very happy new year!

The First Blade of Ostia available in paperback!

The First Blade of Ostia is now available in paperback. I recently received my proofs and I have to say I’m pretty pleased with how it’s turned out. Of my covers so far, I think this one is my favourite.

IMG_0187As usual, I’ve included the paperback in Amazon’s matchbook program, which means if you buy the paperback, you get the Kindle version for free.

To mark the arrival of the paperback, I’m also running a giveaway over on Goodreads to win a signed copy. You can enter it here.

Don’t forget there’s still a giveaway running for signed copies of The Tattered Banner, which you can enter here.

Otherwise, I hope everyone is all set for Christmas, and you all have a really great holiday!

The First Blade of Ostia

Well, that’s the title reveal for my next book taken care of! Set about 12 years before The Tattered Banner, The First Blade of Ostia is a stand alone novel set in the highly competitive world of Ostenheim’s professional duelling circuit. Those who have read the Society of the Sword trilogy will recognise a few of the characters involved, who are joined by a few new—and I hope—interesting individuals. I hate committing to firm release dates before I have everything ready to go, but all things being well, it will be available before Christmas!

Stay tuned for the back cover copy, which I’ll post here in the next few days. Cover reveal and excerpts will hopefully follow shortly afterward!

In other news, I was delighted to see that Maureen O’Hara, the female lead in many of my favourite swashbuckling movies (The Black Swan, The Spanish Main, Against All Flags—anyone remember this series of posts?) has finally been awarded an Oscar!

I hope everyone is well!

Ostenheim

Ever since I started imagining Ostenheim, I’ve been scribbling maps on scraps of paper, adding, deleting and altering as the stories developed and the city grew in my mind. I’ve wanted to get a proper map of the city made up for a long time, and now I have. Here it is:

Ostenheim(web)

(Click to enlarge)

The map was drawn up by the very talented Robert Altbauer. You can see more of his work at his website. I can’t express how delighted I am with his work – it’s a great experience to finally see the image that’s been in my head for such a long time. We chose a style similar to the Renaissance era city maps from books like Civitates Orbis Terrarum; something that looks like it was created at the time it is set in, rather than a modern map of an old city.

The map will be a great accompaniment to the series of posts about the city that is upcoming, and will make my job of explaining where all the important buildings are a lot easier!

Updates…

Ok, the Ostenheim blog series is taking a little longer than expected, as I’m juggling a few balls at the moment. For now, another photoshop teaser will have to do –

Old Book CoverI considered doing the whole thing in this style, but reckon it will be easier to read by putting them in regular blog posts.

It will also be delayed a little longer as I’ve something else coming down the pipeline which will be taking pride of place next week, but more of that anon!

 

Updates…

Tour Guide Cover

I mentioned in my last post that I was putting together a tour guide for Ostenheim. It’s progressing well, but still needs a little more work – I want to finish the whole thing before I start posting it up. I have however done up a cover for it, which I’m posting now. The first part should be online next week (I hope!).

I hope everyone’s well and enjoying the last few days of summer.

The Telastrian Song available in paperback.

The Telastrian Song is available in paperback at long last. Apologies for the delay, but I had to be sure it was as perfect as I could get it. I’m happy that’s where it is now!

3D

As usual, the paperback edition is within Amazon’s matchbook program, which means if you buy a paperback copy, you will be entitled to download the kindle edition for free. If you’re in the US, you can pick up a copy from Amazon by clicking here. I hope everyone’s having a great summer!

Review Time…

After two weeks of nail biting, the first review for The Telastrian Song is out. Waiting for the initial reception for a new book is a pretty miserable experience – like waiting for exam results but worse! Way worse!

The full review can be perused at your leisure over at the Fantasy Review Barn. Many thanks to reviewer Pauline M. Ross for taking the time to read it and write up her thoughts. As per my usual policy, I’ve picked out a couple of snippets that make me look good!

The descriptions of Ostenheim, in fact the whole of this world the author has created, are excellent, just enough to bring the streets and buildings into sharp focus without distracting from the action. It all feels wonderfully real, brought alive by scores of understated little details.

And on the ending:

…a wonderful and very fitting climax to the story. Being the end of the trilogy, I honestly had no idea how it would turn out, and the author had several nice surprises up his sleeve, not least the explanation for the title of this book. A terrific ending to a fine series.

Once again, the full review can be read here. Hope everyone’s enjoying the summer so far!