SCI-FI London Film Festival - Prize Draw!!

SCI-FI London Film Festival 29th April – 4th May 2009 at Apollo Cinema Piccadilly, 19 Regent Street, London, SW1Y 4LY

Panel discussing Urban Fantasy with Pat Cadigan, Alex Bell and Suzanne McLeod

‘With the rise in popularity of contemporary urban fantasy what is it that we are looking for that's missing from our everyday lives? Given the well-documented dangers of modern life, why are our modern fantasies filled with ancient dangers?’

Date: Sunday, May 3, 2009
Time: 5:00pm - 7:00pm
Location: Apollo Piccadilly Circus

Prize Draw: Win two tickets for the Urban Fantasy panel – send an email to contest[at] with SCI-FI London in the subject line and stating your favourite vampire from film, TV or literature by 12 noon Friday 1st May to enter the draw.*

Special Offer: Anyone who buys tickets for any of the literary panels over the weekend can have two for the price of one if they use the words AUTHOR BLOG when they book by telephone on 020 7451 9944. This offer is good until Friday 1st May.

Check out the literary lab programme here

* Winner will be chosen by and notified by email after 12 noon, 1st May 2009. Prize draw tickets will be available to pick up at the door on the actual day. Full name and valid return email address required. To deter spambots, please replace [at] with @ in the contest email address.

The Research Whore's Guide to World Building

Today I'd like to welcome my guest, Maria Zannini, the author of the wonderful Touch of Fire. She describes herself as writing spicy Science Fiction and Fantasy that titillate some and torment others and she's dead right on that score *g* So without any more intro I'll hand over to Maria ...


Those of you who know me, know my terrible secret.

I am a research whore.

I tried to stop several times, but the lure of old books, dusty libraries, and websites that only the insane and the peculiar visit is like crack to someone like me. A little research is never enough--not when you're a writer.

And when you write about stuff that hasn't happened yet, you have to rely on that research along with a veritable highway of extrapolation.

For TOUCH OF FIRE, I decided to write about Earth 1200 years after an apocalypse. Here's a little of what I found out.

• It will take Styrofoam fifty years to decompose in a landfill.
• Recycled plastics will last at least 1000 years, maybe more if it's not in direct sunlight.
• Iron, especially iron that has been reinforced or coated may survive (in chunks) at least as long as plastic.
• Rock. The Pyramids, anyone? They've lasted at least 5000 years. And if you are a cynic like me, it's possible they are even older than that.
• Paper? We still have plenty of parchments from over a thousand years ago and the writing on papyrus scrolls is still legible. Fragile, but still with us.

I took many of my cues from existing artifacts and littered them throughout my novel. I also speculated on sociological changes. What would happen if some cataclysmic event wiped out the majority of civilization? What would the survivors remember? What truths would they keep alive? What would they get wrong?

After a thousand years, the imposing carved faces of Mount Rushmore still exist, but any record of who they were was lost long ago. They had to be important men to warrant such majestic honor. And they surely existed before the great cataclysm of ancient times for no living soul remembers their story. What else could you call these stone sentinels but 'The Four Warlords of the Apocalypse'?

Arizona, its name lost in history became Arrow's Onus. With only a fragile memory of what it was once called, the whispered name got stuck in their generational subconscious. Like a child trying to form words, they reconstituted its essence into something that had more meaning.

Even Mickey Mouse makes an appearance in the book. Apparently, in the future he's still greatly revered as a bit of a deity.

Disney would be proud.

When it comes to world building, magic also has to be based on some accepted truths that will lend credence to your lie. In TOF, there's an entire race of magical people called the Elementals, witches who can control one of the four elements: earth, air, water and fire.

But is it magic?

It's a safe bet that nothing in my world can be taken at face value.

I used just enough detail from known Wiccan practices and combined them with science, and a heart-healthy dose of artistic license. My goal was to give it the flavor of magic without all the calories.

Good world building is all about the details, both what you put in--and what you leave out.

My recipe is simple. Use enough core material (some people call them facts) to make the world plausible and true, then tweak its nose 90 degrees.

Works every time.


Touch Of Fire hits bookstores on April 28. Find it at:
Barnes & Nobles

Read an excerpt of TOUCH OF FIRE.
Visit me on my website, blog or Twitter.

Feeling lucky? Go here for details on how to win a prize package worth $100.

Thanks so much for having me over, Suzanne! There's a big ol' Texas welcome waiting for you if you ever make it across the pond to see me. But be careful for Tank. He's a sloppy kisser. And he loves the wimmin folk.


Thanks for such a great blog, Maria, and everyone, head on over to Maria's to checkout her great contest - here :-)

Eastercon LX 2009 – Post Con

Highlights :-)

· Jon Courtenay Grimwood’s GoH interview with John Jarrold – A mega fan-girl hour for me! Rock Band – The creation of danacea anddavid_devereux – And our entry David Devereux and the Demon Divas! Kudos to Abby who filled the vacant diva slot to perfection and with more glam than you can shake half a dozen guitars at, andmaeve_the_red 's cool purple wig! And to the eight year old who knew exactly which buttons to press to get it all working, not to mention she and her pals aced the game LOL

David Devereux, Jaine Fenn, Yours truly, The glam Abby!

· Seeing lots of old friends and making new ones.
· Tim Powers wonderfully entertaining and informative talk on ‘How to Write a Novel’
· The Swedish Gentleman who generously gave us a lift in from our hotel to the con on Sunday morning, thank you.
· Entering Bronte Country with Sam Stone, Maura McHugh, freda_writes and the less glamorous [if he’ll forgive me for saying :-)] but equally interesting Kev McVeigh
· Cornering Asking Mike Carey to sign his last two books for me! Major squeeee!

Me and Abby waiting to go on ...

· Stephen Deas, Juliet McKenna and co fighting it out with their untrustworthy dragons watched over by numerous dragon aficionados.
· The brilliant Dr Pepper and Mr Devereux on ‘dead meat’ one not to be missed, even right before tea-time; who can ever forget the tin of Harpic?
· Finding just the right copies of Locus in the Dealers’ room*
· Coming home with more books that I went with- with thanks to Liam Sharp’s wife for one of them :-) – always a great sign.
· Meeting the gracious [and extremely organised] Freda Warrington.

Alex Bell, Jaine Fenn and me in full feast mode!

· The rather surreal Chinese feast with the rest of the Gollancz crew on Sat night [nothing to do with the preceding talk about ‘dead meat’ or the food and everything to do with the Karaoke . . .]
· The very welcome [and sinfully great tasting!!!] chocolate I was given on Monday lunchtime, thank you.
· Learning all about Spring-Heeled Jack [and coming away with a smart little story idea ;)] in spite of nearly falling off the table in the middle of the talk when they blew the dustbin up outside!
Lowlights :-(
· Not having enough time to sit down and chat with everyone I wanted to – in spite of being there for two and half days.
· Forgetting to eat between breakfast and 6pm on Sunday.
· A fantastic con programme which meant I had to make difficult decisions about which panel I wanted to go to when they clashed – not recommended on too little sleep – and consequently missing out on some fab ones like the Eoin Colfer talk.
· Not getting my camera out more often … [although I expect there are some that will be grateful for that *g*]

Trying to look like I know what I'm doing!

· Missing the Swedish Room Party – a must for next year [note to self – start building up late-night-party-stamina *now*].
· Not managing to get there on Friday to see the Dragon’s Lair when my Eastercon jinx struck again.
· And having to wait a whole year until the next one :-(
* the one with a review of The Sweet Scent of Blood and the one with a picture of the cover! Yay!

Demons, Sweets and Win a Free Book!

I'm guest blogging over at Maria Zannini's today about Making Characters Real to celebrate the upcoming release of her book Touch of Fire - find out why I wouldn't let the demon possessing me kill you on the spot! and what liquorice torpedoes have to do with it all . . . and leave a comment [over there] telling us what your favourite sweet is, to be in with a chance to win a copy of The Sweet Scent of Blood - so go now and visit Maria [who's blog is always full of awesome :-)] you know you want to *g*

Eastercon Schedule

So it all starts tomorrow! Eastercon that is; the 60th British National Science Fiction Conventsion, celebrating science fiction, fantasy and horror in literature, film, comics and other media. Yay!

I've got off lightly this year with just the one panel, strangely enough it's about Urban Fantasy [can't think why they picked me to talk about that! LOL! and then of course, there's Rock Band! So come and heckle listen to my mumblings wonderful words of wisdom on all that is Urban Fantasy and my Cool Chick Rock Band
[warning - as I’m likely to crash and burn, this is *not* recommended for those of a sympathetic nature]. Other than the two ‘events’ I will be there from sometime on the Friday evening to when the clock strikes twelve after Rock Band on the Sunday night and I have to do the Cinders thing. So feel free to come and say hello, chat, ask me to sign books *hopeful face* or anything else [within reason *g*].

Sun 15:30 Urban Fantasy

"What exactly is it? Is supernatural romance it, does it have to have
supernatural creatures in a realist urban setting? Is Buffy the
prototypical urban fantasy? Is it a growing subgenre of its own? What
about a fantasy city not in our world?"
Freda Warrington, Tim Powers, Suzanne McLeod and Liam Sharp

[The following entry stolen from
David Devereux
cos it says it all :-)]

Sun 22.00 Rock Band

I've already talked about this, but that's not going to stop me talking about it some more. You'll find a sign-up form in your con pack, so just geet together with some mates, put the form in the box at Registration and turn up. Then go Full Tilt Boogie and try for our Fabulous Prizes, courtesy of Forbidden Planet, Gollancz, Black Library, Titan Books and a list of other wonderful people.

I've been hearing rumours of all sorts of teams coming together as well, so you can definitely expect to see some industry figures gettinng up to play. I'm not to confirm or deny anything you might have already heard by your own methods, but I'm expecting to see some all sorts of nonsense take place.

One other thing to mention is that Harmonix have sent us Rock Band 2, which isn't available over here yet, and have given us the OK to put it in the charity auction once we've rocked our socks off. This means you can go own to be one of the first people in the country to show off with your mates when you get home, so bid early and bid often!

My very sincere thanks, by the way, go to John Drake at Harmonix Music for providing the games and their controllers, and to Ben Smith & Julie Bogaert at Sony Europe, who've banded together to provide everything from a PS3 to the PA and screens we'll be using. And I can't not mention
the mighty Danie Ware of Forbidden Planet - for being my partner-in-crime and helping make sure everything came together from prizes to flyers to several of those possible surprises we've got lined up for you. What a rock star!

Happy [double] Birthday to a Fellow Fang-Fan

Happy [double] Birthday to Jaye Wells whose fab debut is Red-Headed Stepchild!!!
Congratulations Jaye!!

The blurb ...

'In a world where being of mixed-blood is a major liability, Sabina doesn’t really fit in. And being an assassin – the only profession fit for an outcast – doesn’t help matters. But she’s never brought her work home. Until now.

Her latest mission is uncomfortably complex, and threatens the fragile peace between the vampire and mage races. As Sabina scrambles to figure out which side she’s on, she uncovers a tangled political web, some nasty facts about her family and some unexpected new talents. Any of these things could be worryingly life-changing, but together, they could be fatal …

This time, it’s personal.'

This is a book I'm so looking forward to reading - great cover art, a wonderful heroine and vampires - what more could any fang-fan want?

Rock Band - Rock Chick anyone???

So you know those conversations that you think you've imagined? The ones where you wake up and breathe a sigh of relief that they probably happened in some sort of alternate reality where you're the Rock Chick who Can. Do. Music. And. Other. Such. Cool. Stuff ?

Turns out they were reeeeeeal! Who knew?

So thanks to David Devereux at Eastercon, along with Jaine Fenn I will now be performing in this . . .

*confession time!*

I've never played Rock Band, in fact I think the last computer game I played was space invaders!!! *panicked phone call to nephew!* eekk!

Then it turns out twittering can get you into even more trouble . . .

@Suzanne: Enjoyed Evolution, Wrath of God and Death yesterday at the OLF!
@Big_Jim: You enjoyed evolving!? Have you become some sort of superhero Suzanne?
@Suzanne: Superhero? Of course, I can fly . . . *jumps up, flaps arms, doesn't leave ground* oh wait, umm, maybe not, so it's back to the amoeba stage for now . . .
@Big_Jim: Ahh! You evolved but didn't get the features you wanted? So you're going to start again! See you in 6 billion years . . . also, in 6 billion years, I expect to see you with glorious wings! How would you see yourself, with bird wings? Butterfly?
Suzanne: *ponders* *Googles* *tweets*
In 6 billion years - I might just manage this!

But for two weeks time for Eastercon? As promised by Danie Ware


So if you're going to Eastercon, come and see if I can squeeze 6 billion years of evolution into two weeks *desperately Googles angel wings* and join in the Forbidden Planet Rock Band fun, and Win. Wonderful. Fantastic. Prizes!!!

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