Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Wall Of Spears tour across Australia in February and March 2014

After family illness and death blighted my 2013 and forced me to cancel much of the Valley Of Shields tour last year, I will be back on the road, bigger and better for the final book in the Empire Of Bones series.
It will be out in shops - and of course available in multiple eBook formats - from February 1.
If you want to get a real copy, then the good news is HarperCollins has come to the party and there will be discounts on any books sold by me at various bookstores across Australia.
So come and see me, get a real copy for at least 10% cheaper than the RRP and get it personally signed as well. Can't say fairer than that!
Now these dates are not locked in stone and some are uncomfirmed but this is what the tour is looking like so far:

Sunday Feb 2 – Tuggerah

Sat Feb 8 – Erina

Sun Feb 9 – Rouse Hill
Thurs Feb 13 - Tweed/Gold Coast

Sat Feb 15 – Chatswood

Sun Feb 16 – Parramatta
Thurs Feb 20/Fri Feb 21 - Adelaide

Sat Feb 22 – Warringah

Sun Feb 23 – Penrith
Wed Feb 26, Thurs Feb 27, Fri Feb 28 - Melbourne

Sat Mar 1 – Carlingford AM, Castle Towers PM

Sun Mar 2 – Burwood

Thurs Mar 6, Fri Mar 7 - Brisbane
Wed Mar 12, Thurs mar 13, Fri Mar 14 - Perth
Sat Mar 15 – Charlestown

Sun mar 16 – Macquarie

Thurs mar 20 – Goulburn and Canberra

Fri mar 21 – Belconnen and Tuggeranong

Sat Mar 22 – Batemans Bay and Nowra

Sun mar 23 - Cronulla

Thurs Mar 27 - Wollongong

Fri Mar 28 - Hornsby

Sat Mar 29 - Umina

Hope to see you at one of these stores!
Remember to check back for interstate tour details as well!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How to kill off a character - or how not to end your book with Harry Potter dead and Voldemort living with Hermione while keeping Ron as a gimp in the basement

As anyone who has read or watched Game Of Thrones knows, you can make a huge success out of slaughtering your main characters.

George RR Martin lops favourites away each and every book – and most of his fans love him for it.

Reportedly, he did receive a massive backlash over the so-called Red Wedding, where several members of the Stark family were brutally slaughtered.

Still, for every fan who didn’t like it, I’d say another three or four do.

But it was a different story when Veronica Roth, author of the wildly popular Divergent series, killed off her heroine Tris. The backlash from the fans was immediate and massive, forcing her to publish a  lengthy justification on her blog.

So, for anyone planning to kill off their main character, the message is clear – it can be more dangerous than you think.

And to do so at the end can ruin a series.

Devoted fans are throwing away their copies of the Divergent series and there has even been questions asked about the film adaptations. Will it hurt ticket sales? Will the studio force changes to the third movie’s ending?

In terms of an unpopular ending, the best comparison I can come up with would be for JK Rowling to instead have had Harry Potter die, then Voldemort set up house with Hermione, while keeping Ron as a gimp in the basement.

Now, there are good reasons to kill off a character.

Sometimes their death is necessary to unlock the next stage of a plot, or perhaps their death will have a dramatic effect on one or more of the other characters, triggering a change which is vital to their development.

Sometimes you get to a certain point and realise a character cannot logically survive a situation. Or perhaps they have simply outlived their usefulness. I’ve come across this before in my writing, where you imagined a character would stick around to the end, only to find they don’t have any more for you. (conversely, I often find minor characters suddenly jump up and demand more time).

Killing a character can also have a profound effect on the reading experience. If the reader knows that you are prepared to kill characters, then it follows that a life-or-death scene will have a much greater impact.

For instance, book five of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series let slip that a main character would die. Rowling then made sure almost every main character was facing death in the last few chapters – and it was nail-biting stuff.

These are all good reasons.

But to kill your character off for no good reason (that your readers can see) is a very dangerous thing.

Yes, you are writing for yourself. But, if you are serious, you are also writing for an audience. And I think you do have to keep them in mind, or you might find them dissecting you on social media.

As anyone who has read The Dragon Sword Histories or Empire Of Bones series knows, some of my characters die. And sometimes quite unpleasantly. But never, I hope, gratuitously.

So my advice is simple. Kill your characters off by all means. But make their deaths mean something.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Top 10 crap presents for Christmas where you should have bought a book instead

Nothing infuriates people more than receiving a truly crap present. And I don’t mean a hand-knitted sweater from Aunt Mavis. I mean a useless, pointless gadget bought off one of those dodgy TV advertisements. Something you will never use and will instead collect dust for a year until you either throw it out or re-gift it.

If it’s all about the thought, not the actual present, what do these say?

``I was watching a stupid commercial featuring an annoying American voice-over that was plugging something pointless and stupid. And I immediately thought of you!’’

In every case, you should buy someone a book instead. Or at least a book voucher, if you are too lazy to go into a store and ask advice from the bookseller. And every bookseller worth their salt will be able to recommend something good for anyone.

In that spirit, I decided to compile a list of the most spectacularly crapulous gifts I have seen advertised this month.

If you get any of these on Christmas Day, you have my permission to go over, slap the person over the back of the head and say: ``You should have got me a book, instead!’’

1)      Buntastic fitness machine. Worth a double slap, because it says they think you’re also tubby as well as stupid. Trade it in and buy a book.

2)      Forever Comfy Cushion. Hit them with it instead. Buy a book!

3)      Slap Chop/Slice-o-matic. Use it on the giftee’s wobbly bits. They’ll give you a book next year then.

4)      Go-Go pillow for tablets. Beat them around the head and shoulders with it until you get a book.

5)      Flexible hose. Waterboard them until the book gets there.

6)      Aqua rug (nonslip fluffy rug for shower). Loofah them with it until you get a book.

7)      Ye Olde Lantern. They’re not a bright spark. Tell that dim person to give you a  book.

8)      Super steam cleaner. Boiling water and abrasive pads at hand? I’m sure you can think of some way to get a book out of them using that …

9)      Chillow cooling pillow/Cloud pillow. Smuffocate them until they agree to buy you a book. And they won’t even know that’s a word if they’ve got a fat pillow on their head.

10)   Schticky cleaner. Offer to de-hair their sensitive bits with it until they agree to get you a book.


And you get the idea…

I don’t call this a definitive list of crapulous gift ideas. But they’re certainly a giant, steaming pile. The sort you'd step over carefully and wonder what the owners were feeding that poor creature.

So you know what to do if you unwrap one of these … and if you’re actually thinking of buying one for someone, Buntastic yourself until you need a Forever Comfy pillow and then go out and buy a book, instead.