The Shadow Saint Cover & Other Matters

The cover for THE SHADOW SAINT has been released. Once again, it’s a lovely piece by Richard Anderson (and designed by Steve Panton.) I’m tremendously grateful to Orbit for the wonderful covers I’m getting.

That’s the New City in the background. The basic design of the cover (cowled figure with sword, echoing the first book but with a different colour scheme) came together very quickly, so my main input was providing some art references for the architecture. If you’re curious, the pinterest moodboard is here.


I allowed myself an indulgence in this book. While researching for THE GUTTER PRAYER, I came across a poem that I believe I’ve quoted on the blog before – Hugh McDiarmid’s Midnight.

Glasgow is null
Its suburbs shadows
And the Clyde a cloud.

Dundee is dust
And Aberdeen a shell.

But Edinburgh is a mad god’s dream,
Fitful and dark,
Unseizable in Leith
And wildered by the Forth,
But irresistably at last
Cleaving to sombre heights
Of passionate imagining
Till stonily,
From soaring battlements,
Earth eyes Eternity.

As I’ve said, Guerdon’s part Cork, but also part Edinburgh. Castle Hill is the Castle Rock of Edinburgh Castle; the profusion of spires and gothic monuments next to alleyways and wynds next to new and ordered streets is also very Edinburgh. One of the characters in THE SHADOW SAINT is a poet, and I licensed the rights to tweak that poem slightly and draw it into my world.


Speaking of Edinburgh, there are still tickets for my event with Darius Hinks at Cymera.

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Formless Things

It’s been more than a month since I posted here, for obvious and squalling reasons. I’ve spent much of the last few weeks cleaning, feeding, cleaning, bouncing and wrangling; there hasn’t been a whole lot of sleeping or writing in that time.

I have, however, finished the last (I hope) few edits to Book 2. Most of these last edits were just word clusters and minor continuity gaffes, and an oddly involved attempt to describe an office tangentially, as neither character in the scene had good reason to really notice their surroundings.

There’ll be more to come on Book 2 – I’ve seen a draft of the lovely cover art, we’re talking about maps(!), and there’ll be the inevitable pile of copy-edits turning up at the wrong moment, but the cognitive load is out of my head. So, what’s next? My initial contract was for two books, so I’m back to writing on spec with the next project.

Book 3 of the Black Iron Legacy? Dig out an in-progress novel and resurrect it? Start something new? I work best under constraints, so I may just write up a random table and throw a d20.

Of course, I’ve also got regular work for Pelgrane, Cubicle 7, Black Shamrock and other freelancing clients to get on with – not to mention the feeding and the cleaning and the wrangling…

In other news, I’ll be appearing at Cymera in Edinburgh in June. My first fantasy con in a long, long, long time…

The End of the Beginning

It’s been about a month since the release of The Gutter Prayer, so the shininess has worn off a little and I’m out of the craziness of being a new release. Reviews have slowed to a steady trickle rather than a flood, and I’m no longer being interviewed all the time. I had my book launch and my signing in Waterstones, both of which went well (and my thanks to Warpcon and Waterstones Cork, respectively). Things are returning to normal-ish.

Normal will last about another 24 hours, tops. Tomorrow, it’s off to the hospital to welcome my daughter (first time I’ve typed those words like that) and everything changes again.

So, what have I learned from this first crazy month? Sales have been good, from what I can gather – it went for a reprint in the UK quite quickly. US sales are a little slower, but still on track for a solid debut. I’ve also gotten one as-yet-unannounced translation deal, which is a lovely bonus.

Reviews have also been mostly positive, and there have been lots of them. In many ways, they’ve been the biggest surprise. Coming from the tabletop games industry, where reviews are comparatively rare, it’s been intoxicating to get so much attention. I was warned, early on, not to visit goodreads too much, and I can see why – it’s too easy to waste hours clicking refresh on your book pages. (Imagine a social media channel which is all just people talking about you). The reviews are also useful in aggregate – you start spotting commonalities and trends, strengths and weaknesses. It’s a cloud of diffuse opinion that you’ve got to condense, distill and filter into usable feedback.

So, the month of self-obsession is over. I don’t think I’d actively recommend having a child a month after your book comes out, but it is an excellent way of marking the milestone and cutting off bad habits. For better or worse, The Gutter Prayer is out there in the world, and I can do no more for it. I’ve got other things to worry about now.

(Like Book 2. And, y’know, babies and six-year-olds and life and stuff.)

Thank you if you’ve read/bought/reviewed/retweeted or otherwise interacted with me or The Gutter Prayer in the last month. I am absurdly lucky on my levels, and remain (I hope) profoundly grateful for all this good fortune.

Podcastery

Yesterday was a double-podcast-drop-day. I show up on the Fictitious podcast and Tim Clare’s Death of 1000 Cuts, talking about THE GUTTER PRAYER. In both cases, though, I also spent a lot of time talking about writing for games, improvised stories, and what insights can be applied from one form of creative writing to another.

A friend semi-jokingly asked me when I was going to transition out of games to focus on fiction full-time. I don’t think I ever will. Gaming is a playground, writing a novel is more like engineering, but you can use lego bricks to prototype anything.

Warpcon Launch Party

The book is officially launched! Many thanks to all those who attended, many apologies to anyone who wanted a copy but was unable to get one (try all good bookshops). Thanks both many and specific to Warpcon for hosting, and Edel for the cake.

Warpcon is the local gaming convention, now in its 29th year. I first attended Warpcon 4; I was involved in organising Warpcons 7 though 12(?), and I’ve run at least one game at every con since 7. (In fact, I’ve written a Cthulhu-adjacent scenario for every Warpcon in the last 20 years…) My writing career started off with those scenarios. It’s the gathering of my clan, the turning of my year. I’m really pleased to have been allowed give THE GUTTER PRAYER a little ceremonial boost in those hallowed halls.

(Not to mention raise a little for charity – although the signed copy I donated was only a small part of the epic €13,500 raised that evening.)

Reviews/interviews/podcasts continue to rush over and around me in great waves. I shall do a round-up soon; ’til then, my twitter feed is a better place to track the madness.

Oh – and I’m pleased to announce that the UK version of THE GUTTER PRAYER has already gone back to the printers for a second run, which is wonderfully gratifying.

Onwards! Let’s see what height can be scaled before Warpcon comes ’round again!

Days in Motion

Things are happening rather quickly now. The UK release date has come and gone, and the books are in the wild. The US release date impends (22nd Jan). Reviews come in waves, eddying back to pool in Goodreads or amazon. The response has been wonderfully positive, for which I am profoundly grateful.

Upcoming events of note:

  • 22nd January: United States release
  • 26th January: Launch Party at Warpcon (5.30, probably in the New Bar.)
  • 9th February: Signing at Waterstones Cork (3-5pm)

In between all those things, I’ll be recording several podcasts, answering interviews, and racing to hit deadlines.

Into the Unknown Country

As a number of people correctly discerned (intuited? wildly guessed?), the cryptic text for the contest was from Robert Holdstock’s Lavondyss, one of my favourite books. Copies of The Gutter Prayer shall be dispatched as soon as possible.

Winners (chosen randomly by die roll from the correct entries) are @_acupofcyanide, @RustyLeeMiller, and Beth of https://thebastardgods.com.

We’re into the last week before release, so reviews have started coming quickly now. They’ve all been positive to one degree or another – some glowing, some more critical of parts. It’s taught me a greater appreciation of reviewing, and encouraged me to pay even less attention to the vagaries of the star system on goodreads!

There have also been two print reviews – one in SciFiNow, and one in SFX magazine. I must grab print copies, but for now I’ll make do with scans…

One week to go.