Wimborne Literary Festival (Halloween Time Warp edition)

Tomorrow - 1st November at 7.30 pm - I'll be appearing at the Wimborne Literary Festival with my fab pal Jaine Fenn. (Details here!) If you're about we'd love you to come and see us! And since it's Hallowe'en here's a small preview . . . 

NB: The 'management' would like to gratefully thank Jason Momoa for his unofficial participation in this production!

If you're viewing on Google reader think you might need to click through to see the video.

Malik interviewed by Dangerous Romance.

The lovely ladies, Laurie and Sabina, at Dangerous Romance tell the tale of how they came to Spellcrackers London to interview Malik*, asking him questions like, how does he really feel about Genny? Why is he so protective of her? And what does he think about Finn? 

*Malik’s answers were given by ‘him’ (under my close authorial supervision - can't have him giving any spoilers out! *g*), and my own interjections were, of course, my own. Spellcrackers London used by Dangerous Romance with my permission.

Free story, Questions, Spooky London and Tigers!

A quick round up . . .

~New free Spellcrackers short story - PIECE OF CAKE - in Andromeda's Offspring Fanzine, issue #5. It's a standalone set before The Sweet Scent of Blood - Spellcrackers #1 - and is about one of Genny's first spellcracking jobs. Enjoy! :-D)

~The lovely Grete at Book Thing asked me lots of Irreverent Questions (like whether I get dressed to write and if I like movies to have HEAs. *looks shifty* :-D).

~I'm over at the fab Book Chick City blogging about  'Spooky London' for their All Hallows Eve event, and there's a giveaway, too! (winner's choice of one of my books; Int ends 31st Oct) Plus there are lots of other All Hallows Eve posts and giveaways from lots of fantastic authors. Why not head over and check it out?
Oh, and BCC is doing a new mini feature on their sidebar - My Favourite Book - where I (surprisingly ;p) talk about one of my all time favourite books!

~Here I talk about Switch - a new ITV2 comedy drama about The Witches of Camden.

~And here's an interesting* story I found online:

Two Sumatran tigers flown to new home at ZSL London Zoo

The tigers were accompanied by a dedicated zookeeper, around 10 pounds of meat and 2 gallons of water.

Melati, a female from Perth Zoo in Australia arrived last month and Jae-Jae, a male tiger from Akron Zoo in Ohio, arrived last weekend.

The two tigers have been clocking up some serious air miles after being flown 14,000 miles to London to take part in an international breeding program. It is hoped the two Sumatran tigers, one from the USA and one from Australia, will breed now they've touched down at Heathrow airport to start their new lives at London Zoo. 

*Genny spends some time at London Zoo in The Shifting Price of Prey *g*

The Witches of Camden - Switch.

Switch is a new series on ITV2 about four witches living in London which looked like it was right up my alley :-D. The twenty-something witches have been friends, and a coven of four, since they met at fourteen, at Solstice camp. Now they share a flat together in Camden.

Stella is linked with the element Earth and, as that suggests, is the practical and motherly one of the four. She works at an advertising company and has a demanding bitch for a boss.

Jude is linked with fire, and works in fashion. Like her element she’s feisty and impulsive.

Hannah is linked with air, and is more interested in travelling the world than putting down roots.

Grace is linked with water, works as a physiotherapist, and is the quiet one who worries about the others and has an over-protective mother to deal with.

Things I liked:
~The four of them can’t cast spells separately, only when they get together.
~The spells they cast don’t always turn out how they want (which is pretty normal when it comes to casting spells, so not such a surprise, but the unexpected results feed well into the humour).
~The girls are supportive of each other and their bickering lacks any bitchiness.
~The humour.
~The summer Solstice camp, which is a lovely bit of worldbuilding.
~The mix of magic and mundane.
~Grace’s mother (played by the wonderful Caroline Quentin).
~The ending, which does a fab job of setting up the next episode.

Things that didn’t quite work for me:
~The episode’s conflicts - both from the relationships and the spells - were resolved a little too easily and neatly.
~The world lacks a certain edginess/darkness.

 *Spoilers* below (should be blacked out so can be highlighted to read, so the warning is just in case.

~The plot holes – (highlight for minor spoilers) like how Grace’s boss seemed to take things in her stride once the spell cast on her was lifted; like how the girls could afford their large, expensive London flat; like how one of the girls can travel halfway round the world in less than half a day; and like how the hell can someone put a cup of coffee in a microwave and not notice a (rather large) black cat.

Though with it being the first episode, hopefully some or all of this might change/be ‘explained’ in future ones.

I LOVE the show’s premise and I think it does exactly what it sets out to do – deliver a fun, light-hearted supernatural show that aims to explore the relationships between and around the four girls, with a little added magic. Though, I have to admit I’m not sold on Switch yet, but I want to be, so I’ll be watching next week to see what happens next! :-D

How about any of you? Did you watch? If so, what did you think (make sure you mark any comments if they include spoilers)? And are you going to watch again?

More about the show here.
Watch the show here (if you can access ITV’s iPlayer)
Picture taken with thanks from here - copyright ITV2

Free Spellcrackers short story - Piece of Cake.

New free Spellcrackers short story - PIECE OF CAKE - in Andromeda's Offspring Fanzine, issue #5.
It's a standalone set before The Sweet Scent of Blood - Spellcrackers #1. Enjoy:-D)

And talking of cake - have some spam pics of Birthday Cupcakes made for my horse-mad niece!  
Dark double choc with salted caramel buttercream icing
Milk choc with white choc bits and salted caramel buttercream icing

Books by Mike Carey, Samit Basu & Nicole Peeler up for grabs!

Thought I'd try a Rafflecopter giveaway, so here goes :-)

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway 1 - Eye of the Tempest - Jane True #4 - Nicole Peeler
Giveaway 2 - The Steel Seraglio by Mike Carey, Linda Carey, and Louise Carey
Giveaway 3 - Turbulence by Samit Basu

1st name drawn gets their first choice of book, 2nd name drawn gets their 1st/2nd choice book, and 3rd name drawn gets the book not chosen by the previous two winners.
Winners drawn by Random.org.

Giveaways are international where Book Depository deliver and end Midnight (EST) Oct 17th, 2012.

Comments on the previous giveaway post here still count, but entrants can get more entries using the Raffelcopter above :-)

The Steel Seraglio, Turbulence and Other Books (+ giveaways)

So a (really) short update of Fantasycon* - I had a blast and, more importantly, our cupcakes and biscuits raised £215 for National Literacy Trust. Woot!!

Huge thanks to my fab, fellow bakers Adele, Louise, Rhian, Michaela, and Andrew, with extra thanks to Michaela and Andrew who ended up doing most of the selling/organising.

Some pics of cakes (if you want to drool) are here! (Mostly mine as I had con camera-fail as usual) And even HUGER thanks and virtual hugs go to everyone who bought and devoured the cakes, and to those who managed to resist temptation but were cake-tastic and still donated. Thank you!

Now onto books (and giveaways - details at the end of the post)! These are some that have come to live with me recently. Death's Rival is #5 in Faith Hunter's fantastic Jane Yellowrock/Beast UF series, which I adore. Anton Strout's Alchemystic is the first in his new Spellmason Chronicles series, which looks like it's going to Rock*! And I was lucky to nab two copies of Nicole Peeler's awesome Eye of the Tempest at Fantasycon! Yay! Jane True FTW! (And one's in the giveaway!)

Another book that came home with me from Fantasycon is The Steel Seraglio by Mike Carey, Linda Carey, and Louise Carey. Mike is one of my all time writerly heros (LOVE his Felix Castor books!), so I was thrilled when he gave me a signed copy of The Steel Seraglio co-written with his wife and daughter. I'm two thirds of the way through reading it and, WOW!

The third book that I have thanks to Fantasycon, and my lovely pal Ben who introduced us, is Samit Basu's Turbulence. We three had a wonderful writerly chat about writing (;p) and characters and how as authors we love to be evil! *g* At the end of which I forced my first book on Samit and insisted he read it and demanded he give me his asked Samit if he might want to swap books! He said yes! Yay! I haven't started Turbulence yet but I did sneak a quick read of the first page! Awesome beginning!

TURBULENCE is a hyper-real novel set in an over-the-top world. It features the 21st-century Indian subcontinent in all its insane glory – F-16s, Bollywood, radical religious parties, nuclear plants, cricket, terrorists, luxury resorts, crazy TV shows – but is essentially about two very human questions.

How would you feel if you actually got what you wanted?

What would you do if you were given the power to change the world?

‘For wicked wit, for post-modern superheroics, for sheer verbal energy and dazzle, Samit Basu doesn’t so much push the envelope as fold it into an n-dimensional hyper-envelope, address it to your hind-brain and mail it with a rail gun.’- Mike Carey (X-men, Lucifer, the Felix Castor series)

‘You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll gasp and you will demand a sequel.’- Ben Aaronovitch (Doctor Who, Rivers of London)


Giveaway 1 - Eye of the Tempest - Jane True #4 - Nicole Peeler
Giveaway 2 - The Steel Seraglio by Mike Carey, Linda Carey, and Louise Carey
Giveaway 3 - Turbulence by Samit Basu

How to enter:

Leave a comment with your 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice books.
1st name drawn gets their first choice of book, 2nd name drawn gets their 1st/2nd choice book, and 3rd name drawn gets the book not chosen by the previous two winners.
Winners drawn by Random.org.

Giveaways are international where Book Depository deliver and end Midnight (GMT) Oct 17th, 2012.

* Many thanks to Marie and Paul, everyone else who did a grand job organising the con, and all the brilliant redshirts!
*Gargoyles and rocks . . . sorry, couldn't resist . . . *g*
*My only sadness is I missed their reading and didn't get to ask how they worked out their collaboration. (I stupidly got my timings wrong and arrived at the end) :-(

Coincidences Examined.

Today I'd like to welcome the lovely Geoff Nelder, author of ARIA: Left Luggage to the blog. Geoff is here talking about coincidences as part of his blog tour for the release of his new book! Yay! Many congrats, Geoff!

Coincidences Examined

The old adage that truth is stranger than fiction can be difficult for authors who seek to enthral readers by teetering them on the edge with a barely credible plot. Consider these true accounts.

In the 1920s three Englishmen travelled independently by train through Peru. When they entered the carriage, the three strangers greeted each other. They were the only occupants of the railroad car. One man's last name was Bingham, and the second man's last name was Powell. The third man’s eyebrows elevated in shock then he announced that his last name was Bingham-Powell. They were unrelated. It is complicated to estimate the odds of those three meeting although it isn’t as astronomical as you might think.

Powell is the 85th most common name with 77,000 people sharing it in Great Britain. Bingham is the 1588th most common name with only 6,400 folk sharing it. So, the chances of the next person you see at random being a Powell given there are 60 million Brits is just less than one in 800. The chances of meeting a Bingham is over one in 9000. The chances of meeting a Bingham-Powell in Great Britain using today’s directory data is – gulp – over one in a million and yet I’ve met one. Interestingly, this book is in the British Library: Sanitary Progress in Peru and Bolivia, by H. J. BINGHAM-POWELL. Published in 1916, which brings me to that train. Given three Englishmen being in Peru in the 1920s, they are likely to be men of means who are probably professional engineers, businessmen or academics. Roads being what they were then their most likely transport mode would be rail. Trains didn’t run every day so the probability increases that they’d be on the same train, with maybe one or two first class carriages. The chances are better than you might have originally thought but somewhat more than a million to one.

It's Raining Babies
In 1930s Detroit, a young mother earnestly thanked a man named Joseph Figlock. As he was walking down the street, the mother's baby fell from a high window onto him. Both man and baby were bruised but unharmed. Fortunate indeed, but a year later, the same baby fell from the same window onto the hapless Joseph Figlock as he was again passing beneath. Again, they both survived the event. If you wrote that into a story it would sound incredulous and contrived because the odds must be millions to one against.

Let’s consider the circumstances. Figlock was on his way to work so it was likely he passed under that window at the same time each working day. In other words the coincidence isn’t related to Figlock but to the infant. The mother probably followed a daily routine – e.g. rising, ablutions, getting breakfast ready, changing, and feeding the infant. A year on, the baby would not be self sufficient. At some point in that routine the infant was placed on a table near the window. Most days the window was shut but on a hot summer’s day maybe pa opened it before going out to work. So we’ve narrowed it down to the hotter days in Detroit. Conjecture, yes, but you see how the odds are reduced making this amazing coincidence more a predictable event. Even so, feel sorry for Figlock: infants put on a lot of mass in 12 months. I bet he changed his route the following year!

When discussing coincidences the Presidential coincidences relating to dates often crop up. These of Lincoln and Kennedy are worth repeating:
Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846.
John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946.
Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860.
John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960.
Both were particularly concerned with civil rights.
While living in the White House, both wives lost their children.
Both Presidents were shot on a Friday.
Both Presidents were shot in the head.
Lincoln’s secretary was named Kennedy.
Kennedy’s Secretary was named Lincoln.
Both were assassinated by Southerners.
Both were succeeded by Southerners named Johnson.
Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was born in 1808.
Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908.
John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln, was born in 1839.
Lee Harvey Oswald, who (we presume) assassinated Kennedy, was born in 1939.
Both assassins were known by their three names.
Both names are composed of fifteen letters.
Lincoln was shot at the theatre named ‘Ford.’
Kennedy was shot in a car called ‘Lincoln’ made by ‘Ford.’
Lincoln was shot in a theatre and his assassin ran and hid in a warehouse.
Kennedy was shot from a warehouse and his assassin ran and hid in a theatre.

More coincidences but related to ARIA: Left Luggage
ARIA is based on something found on the International Space Station (ISS).
When I emailed a NASA employee about the nature of the struts, Leroy Chaio answered while in orbit on the ISS.
The novel was originally called Left Luggage and in the critique group was known just as LL. The publisher who grabbed it is called LL-Publications.
It worried me that another writer would hear of or invent the same unique premise of infectious amnesia. If they had, they’ve forgotten about it.

In ARIA an alien virus is removing the memories of humans so that eventually they cannot function. Why?

ARIA: Left Luggage
A moment of lunacy hit me cycling up a steep Welsh hill five years ago. An original idea: infectious amnesia. Not mass amnesia, but one you catch from being near someone else who also has it. Infectious amnesia doesn’t exist. Thank goodness, but imagine the ramifications if it did. You are on a bus when a man gets on with a new virus, one that loses memory backwards at the rate of a year per week. By the time the bus stops, all the passengers, including you, have ARIA (Alien Retrograde Infectious Amnesia). The driver has it too, and all her passengers until the end of her shift. You go shopping on the way home. Your spouse works in the power plant, your kids go to school. How long before industry stops, society breaks down, and your kids forget how to read, write and talk?

That’s why Mike Resnick, Robert J Sawyer, Jon C Grimwood, Brad Lineweaver and Charles Stross says ARIA is a fascinating idea, and makes us think of what is the most important things we need to remember in our lives. 

ARIA: Left luggage is available from the usual online stores or direct from the publisher at http://www.ll-publications.com/leftluggage.html
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