Category: Fantasy author


New friend Ralph Carr with a copy of one of my books, author and publisher David J Howe all about to be assimilated by the Borg

New friend Ralph Carr with a copy of one of my books, author and publisher David J Howe all about to be assimilated by the Borg

The nearest I will ever get to Jon Snow from Game of Thrones !

The nearest I will ever get to Jon Snow from Game of Thrones !

Wales Comic Con 2013, Wrexham

My second visit to Wales Comic Con  as a guest author  was even better than the year before, I didn’t think that was possible as 2012 was amazing enough. At the rate this event is growing, we could have a contender to rival the USA’s awesome Dragon Con ! In fact I keep accidently typing World Comic Con instead of Wales….perhaps a premonition?

Jaime Milner, organizer extraordinaire and his hard working, happy and friendly team created a near perfect Con for all fans of SF movies, TV, comics and books .  The team had urged people to buy tickets in advance but the huge number of people arriving without tickets and preparing to queue for as much as three hours seemed perfectly happy to do so and waited cheerfully for entrance to a one day event now grown into two large buildings at Wrexham University.

Jaime has the awesome ability to get great media guests, the biggest draw to the event. He had the entire Red Dwarf crew including both Hollys, cast members from Buffy, Star Trek, Twilight, Game of Thrones, Primeval, Dr Who and The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings among many other great shows and films. Biggest queues were for Robert Picardo from Star Trek, Billy Boyd from Lord of the Rings, Nicholas Brendon from Buffy and Warwick Davis with his delightful family, all helping out. I am always astounded by the stamina and friendliness of these media guests, even after many, long hours of non-stop meet and greet and signing autographs, they remained cheerful and welcoming to their fans. I was very impressed by them all.

An enduring highlight of this event is always the wonderful attendees, so many resplendent in wonderful attire showing great skill and imagination. Among my many personal favourites were a fabulous, perfect Borg who must have parked the Cube outside in the car park and the nearest I will ever get to Jon Snow from Game of Thrones !

 Among the crowds thronging the well laid out aisles looking at interesting things to buy like big knitted Dr Whos and film-inspired jewellery, I spotted some extraordinary cosplay outfits  and professional look alikes including a jaw-droppingly accurate Jean Luc Picard.  The atmosphere of the event was exhilarating all day. I lost count of the number of lovely people I spoke to during the full on but thoroughly enjoyable day which sped past on warp factor ten. I even sold loads of books which is extra icing on the cake!

Big thanks to Sam and David for their ever-generous hospitality , to Fraser Hines for being such great company and to my lovely publishers  Andrew and Michele from Endaxi Press for being there to support me and my books.  You guys all rock! 

             And of course to Jaime and his team….have a well-earned rest then roll on Wales Comic Con 2014 !

the steampunk panel

Awesome is an over used and devalued word. I need something else to describe this years Sci Fi Weekender….freaking fantastic?

  I am absolutely exhausted from the event, a happy, smiley fatigue from spending so much time with over 5000 fun people. The organising team must be congratulated and warmly thanked…it was non-stop, seamless entertainment from the moment it started. Their seemingly endless stamina, friendliness and enthusiasm should be harnessed  as an energy source to save Planet Earth!

My biggest problem was getting to Pwllheli, in North Wales, nine hours on the train from Bucks…eek!  Again I was able to take dreadful advantage of the boundless hospitality of David J Howe and Sam Stone who put me up, took all my books to the event and generally spoilt me rotten. I was also able to get to know the beautiful American actress and guest star of the event, Chase Masterton, a real lady who is as gorgeous on the inside as her outward beauty. I also met up with lovely Frasier Hines again, he has always been  my favourite Dr Who companion and is great company in real life.

The venue, a Haven park in stunning coastal setting was a revelation. The excellent accomodation was fresh, spotless and luxurious…a real treat. With bright, early spring sunshine every day of the event, there was a definite holiday atmosphere to the event. And there was a Starbucks…so I could continue to fuel my addiction to caramel lattes.

 

With such an action packed program, the weekend went in a blur. I was on a line of tables among great people, firstly Robert Rankin with the effervervescent Lady Raygun, the Telos table with many of their authors. My table was also next to the King of Steampunk Jonathan Green, as always a delightful gentleman and wonderful company during the long hours of book promotion.

Jonathan and I were also together on the steampunk panel. This was so well attended, the auditorium packed solid with an enthusiatic and responsive audience.  We shared the panel with the irrepresible Rob Rankin and lovely Sam Stone at the table. A great success and so much fun to do. 
Other enjoyable panels I was on included one on fantasy world building, skilfully moderated by renowned author Paul Cornell.

The event attendees were awesome, incredible costumes, so much enthusiasm. One of the stand out costumes for me was one of the monsters from Attack the Block. How he managed to get the authentic -looking glowing blue fangs and spiky long black fur ! He had worked out how to fit an internal water bottle but not how to go to the loo…well, sometimes you have to suffer for your art!

Chase, Sam and David had the uneviable task of judging the cosplay competition, with so many brilliant entries, people who had put in so much dedication, imagination, humour and many hours careful crafting their costumes and props. The final ten were on the main stage on Saturday night and were popular choices of finalists judging from the enthusiastic cheers of the packed crowd.

Sadly I was too poorly to be able to take full advantage of the night events or maybe just getting too long in the tooth! I am determined to get fitter for next years extravaganza so I can join in and party all night. I was also soo busy to be able to catch any of the interviews with Chase, Frazer and Peter Davidson, Virginia Hey and the now legendary Rob Rankin/Brian Blessed interview. I hope someone has filmed them.

A big Gothmother thank you to the event organisers and support teams…you did an amazing job. Much respect to you all.

Also huge thank you hugs to Sam and David for looking after me ,to the Telos authors for holding the fort when I did panels, to Jonathan for your support and friendship, to the Rankins for being so fun and splendid. To the people who bought my books. To Kat and Lawrence and also my friends from the comic shop in Chesham for a lovely suprise reunion and to all the attendees for infecting me with your good natured spirit. An event to remember for the smiles….

The wonderful. high quality and stylish publisher Telos is starting a new fiction imprint called Telos Moonrise and the first book they will bring out is my Absinthe and Arsenic!
A collection of dark, creepy Victorian and steampunk short stories of which I am very proud.  I am over the moon that Telos has so much faith in my writing to take it on.  Absinthe and Arsenic will be in both ebook and paperbook form…publication dates to be announced soon.

Delighted and deeply honoured to be part of the Telos team.

My existing published books will continue to be with Endaxi Press who produce beautiful books with total dedication and professionalism. With a short story in an exciting collection by Spectral Press, The 13 Ghosts of Christmas, this has been the start of a busy and rewarding year.

I will also be working on the third in the Cyrus Darian steampunk series and writing a novella starring the submariner Tia Dakkar who appeared in Cyrus Darian and the Ghastly Horde.

Below is the official announcement from the Telos website;

TELOS MOONRISE

After much consideration and planning, we are
delighted to announce the launch of Telos Moonrise, a new
digital and POD imprint for Telos, which we hope will expand to cover a wider
variety of fiction than we are currently able to undertake in the more
traditional publishing lines. Titles are planned to be made available in ebook
formats for Kindle, Kobo and Nook, and for those who still love books, all the
titles will also be available as print on demand paperbacks via
Amazon.

Consultant and editor for the imprint is Sam Stone, herself an
acclaimed and award-winning author, and she will be commissioning and looking
for titles in all four of the initial lines which are planned:

o
‘Steampunk Visions’: Explore alternate worlds, past, present and future in our
exciting new Steampunk range. There will be action, adventure and, of course,
superb gadgets.

o ‘Criminal Pursuits’: Look into the darkest depths of
the criminal mind and explore the darker side of humanity with our Crime and
Thriller titles.

o ‘Dark Endeavours’: Delve into the supernatural, urban
and dark fantasy, or the darkest horror imaginable. Or simply explore fantasy
realms and alternate worlds where anything can happen from myth and magic to
sword-wielding warriors.

o ‘Sinful Pleasures’: Brings sexual fantasies,
love or simply unbridled lust, with good strong stories, believable characters
and a large helping of erotica in all its forms.

Telos
Moonrise
launches with a ‘Dark Endeavours’ title: Absinthe
and Arsenic
, a collection of dark, mysterious and comedic tales by
award winning dark fantasy and steampunk author Raven Dane.

Details of
publication dates and other details will be available as soon as they are
confirmed. We will make submission guidelines available on the Telos site as
soon as they have been finalised, and when the range is opened for unsolicited
submissions. Please keep an eye on the Telos news page, and the Telos Facebook
page for details.

Still on an all time high from Cyrus Darian and the Technomicron winning the inaugural Steampunk Novel of the Year award at this year’s Weekend at the Asylum, I was sent this fantastic review from The British Fantasy Society.

Cyrus Darian And The Technomicon/Cyrus Darian And The Ghastly Horde by Raven Dane. Book review

CYRUS DARIAN AND THE TECHNOMICON/CYRUS DARIAN AND THE GHASTLY HORDE by Raven Dane, Prosochi, p/b, £11.99/kindle, £3.08, http://www.endaxipress.com/

Reviewed by David Brzeski

Steampunk is huge right now, and these books have the added advantage of being Steampunk/Urban Fantasy crossovers. While they are set in a steampunk Victorian England, Cyrus Darian is an occult practitioner and his companion is a demon lord.

In the first book, various factions are looking for the Technomicon, a magical/technological tome of huge power, power too great for any man to hold. Several of these factions think Darian has it. Others want Darian to get it for them. Darian actually knows nothing about it, but soon decides it would be safer in his hands than anywhere else.

What follows is an amazingly complex story, in which these assorted groups of ne’er do wells try to put one over the others, or indeed kill them, in their race to own the dreaded book.

Raven Dane has an unrivalled talent for weaving multiple groups with individual agendas into a coherent plot.

Darian himself holds no delusions of altruism regarding his own character. He’s out for number one. Thankfully, what turns out to be best for Cyrus Darian is also best for the World.

In ‘Cyrus Darian and the Ghastly Horde’, Darian returns home to discover that the destruction of the Technomicon was achieved just a bit too late and he has a few thousand restless spirits bound to him in eternal servitude. The spell wasn’t completed, so he has no clue how to control them, or even make them go away. The British Government are not best impressed and soon decide that the simplest solution would be the permanent removal of the focus of these spirits’ attention, ie: Darian. Again, there are numerous factions at work, including a government agent who sees the military potential of the restless spirits.

It gets complicated….

Darian and his friends flee to France, where they team up with the daughter of a well-known sub-mariner on a mission to Russia to retrieve a vital piece of magical equpiment.

I’ll write no more on the plot. Read them for yourselves.

Cyrus Darian is a fascinating character. In the first book, he’s very much the reluctant anti-hero, thrust into situations where he, through no fault of his own, finds himself working for the greater good of mankind. We like him. He’s cool and he has a Lord of Hell who dotes on him and a friend with the coolest airship and a dragoncat!… I want a dragoncat!

At some point during the second book in the series, I found myself going off him a bit. I liked some of the supporting cast much more than I liked Cyrus Darian. I realised that Raven Dane had written him so well that I was feeling the same misgivings about Darian as his friends.

The only thing stopping Cyrus Darian from being a true hero is himself. The idea that he might possibly be a good person and a trustworthy friend, who cares about anyone other than himself terrifies him. It’s so obvious in the effort he makes to sabotage his relationships with his companions. When one finds oneself attempting to psychoanalise a fictional character in a book in this way, the author must be doing something right.

There is a lot more to be discovered about Cyrus Darian and his motivations. I can’t wait!

Weekend at the Asylum 2012

Many decades ago, when a little girl, the very mention of the word ‘Christmas’ would make my heart race with excitement. I would lose sleep as the great day neared and cry when so swiftly it was all over. I grew up and such intense and thrilling special days became a thing of past memories.
Then steampunk took over my life and all those old feelings of excitement and magic returned with the annual get together known as the Victorian Steampunk Society Convivial, Weekend at the Asylum, Lincoln. Better known simply as The Asylum.

Three days in the company of the most warm-hearted, welcoming and splendid people, wonderful clothes, intriguing gadgets,  interesting events, downright brilliantly bonkers competitions, joyous parties and shopping for unique, handcrafted objects of beauty and desire.
Events? Everything from parades of the Third Foot and Mouth Brigade to hilarious jet propulsion races. Sadly none became airborne this year, it is only a matter of time!  The tension from the packed crowd over the finals of the Tea Duelling event had to be experienced to be believed. Forget football, tea duelling should be the UK’s national sport!

The elegant setting of the Assembly Rooms held fascinating discussion panels, book launches and readings. Author and all round dashing gentleman Kit Cox held a large audience entranced with a real Victorian slide show of his new book ‘ How to Bag A Jabberwocky’ and also gave a spot on, fascinating and hilarious master class on character building in novels.

The delightful Sam Stone launched two books at the event, the latest in her Vampire Gene series and her steampunk book Zombies at Tiffanys.   And the Asylum would lose much magic and sparkle without the presence of Robert Rankin and his lovely ,talented wife, Rachel Hayward, at the heart of the event in every sense of the term.

The Assembly Rooms also hosted the best costume competition, another fun and popular highlight. My personal favourite was a gracious lady who turned her mobility scooter into a Wellsian Time Machine.

Asylum is spread over several close sites in the beautiful medieval area of Lincoln. Organised by the extraordinary powerhouse of ideas and organisational skills that is Thaddeus Tinker and Lady Elsie, with a dedicated, hardworking team of organisers and volunteers, it is run with clockwork precision that never runs out of steam or gets a spanner in the works.
The result at the end is an exhausted organising team and nearly two thousand delighted steampunks from all around the United Kingdom and abroad with visitors from the Americas, Europe and South Africa. No mean feat.
The Asylum Weekend is a time to meet up with old friends and always end up a making many new ones. It is having an aching face with so much smiling and laughing. Going reluctantly back to normal life with a happy fatigue from having a good time….no, make that a bloomin’ amazing time and so many wonderful memories.

This year was very special for me and my publisher Endaxi Press. We launched the second of my steampunk series Cyrus Darian and the Ghastly Horde on Saturday morning.
To my astonishment, my first steampunk novel, Cyrus Darian and the Technomicron, launched at The Asylum was not just nominated but shortlisted for the inaugural VSS Steampunk Novel of 2011. I was up against well-established authors Gail Carriger and King of Steampunk Jonathan ‘Pax Britannica’ Green…no chance! But to be shortlisted with a debut novel in the genre by the people who matter the most, not some industry worthies but the actual steampunk community itself was mind-numbing and amazing.

Both Jonathan and I were bundles of nerves as the moment approached for the award announcement…when I heard Cyrus won, I nearly fainted with shock….it still hasn’t truly sunk in that Cyrus Darian and the Technomicron is Steampunk Novel of the Year…..
Earlier during the awards, a stunning painting by Vincent Shaw-Morton, called The Alchemist, Cyrus Darian won the 2d art exhibition competition at the Asylum. I had a joint celebration with the Shaw-Morton family at the end of event party….my bad, bad boy Cyrus had a great weekend!

Too many people to thank in person without the risk of missing someone out, but of course without Thaddeus Tinker, Lady Elsie and their team, there would be no Asylum.  Helping me so much at the event on a personal level, Jo Mathews, Sam and David J Howe, Darren Demondaz and Hayley Exhayle, Ian J Smethhurst , Eve Weaver and Steve Cotterill.  Group hug!

Image

Here I am proudly showing off Cyrus Darian and the Ghastly Horde with gothic supermodel and good friend, Darren Demondaz

Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

At age twenty three, young orphaned and rather dashing Cyrus Darian flees his homeland of Persia heading for the delights of London where supernatural is second nature. Darian is an exotic blend of Irish from his Mom and Persian from his Dad.

Described as “alchemist, amateur dabbler in the occult, collector of antiquities, necromancer and murderer”, Darian is a fully fledged living breathing reason to read this book. We don’t know much about him to begin with, other than his supernatural skills and handsome looks, but we do know he is seeking out the Sumerian lifestone, an artefact which will help him in his unspecified quest.

Two years later, things go a little awry when a false trail finds him in the claws of a succubus, who gives him a ‘love bite’ to remember, almost killing him and bestowing him with everlasting long life and strange good looks complete with swirling silver, violet eyes into the bargain.

Ten years later and Darian, an inhabitant of London, still looks twenty-five and is still seeking hidden artefacts in the realms of a London drowning in a stinking, poisonous fog. There are riots over the poisoned air, overhead steam trams, dirigibles and demons. Reading somewhat like a Steampunk ‘urban’ fantasy, Cyrus Darian blends high adventure, visual feasts and sensuality to create a fun and fast paced romp.

Cyrus finds himself talked into the inevitable search for the Technomincron, a device of infinite power and danger. With his trusty sidekicks and a kick arse female lead, Darian tackles the denizens of Hell.

His demon friend Belial in particular, is one of the really enjoyable characters in the novel. He is great fun as he taunts and teases his human counterparts, also teasing himself with his flirtations with Darian, which can never be consummated.

This book has no pretensions. It is an adventure and a fun experience, though Dane does make reference to the poisonous air of London which is reminiscent of the historical ‘Great Stink’. You will surely be missing a Steampunk gem if you ignore this book . . . at your peril.

I am delighted and most honoured to announce the lovely organisers have agreed to let me launch the second of my steampunk novel series at this year’s Asylum. And my publishers have confirmed Cyrus Darian and the Ghastly Horde will be there in time. Huzzah!

Like its predecessor Cyrus Darian and the Technomicron, the new book is a labour of love…..my small but heartfelt contribution to the creative outpourings inspired by the steampunk aesthetic.

Like many love affairs, mine began with a distant fascination and curiosity. I was attending the fabulous Elf Fantasy Festival in Holland as a guest author in 2008. Three days of extravaganza with over 30,000 people from all over Europe, held in the beautiful grounds of a fairy tale castle. Among the magnificent orcs and angels, the whole families including the babies and dogs dressed as demons, were some smartly dressed folk in Victorian garb with amazing flashing, whirring and steam-driven gadgets and weapons. I had no idea why they were dressed that way but I thought they looked wonderful. When I returned to the UK, it was straight onto Google to learn all I could about the steampunk aesthetic but the affair did not grow then, I was too busy with life, family, work and writing the next novels in my dark fantasy series, Legacy of the Dark Kind

In 2010, I was at Eastercon, another large four day SF and Fantasy gathering. One night there was a Steampunk Ball….I swooned with desire for the splendid, elegant and inventive costumes but like Cinderella, I had no clothes to go to the ball. Smitten totally by steampunk by now, I retired to my lonely hotel bedroom with my room service supper and began work on what would become Cyrus Darian and the Technomicron.

Steampunk has now taken over my life…and my work desk. Not just a place for my laptop, with steampunk wallpaper or course. It now has piles of fabric and lace and sewing paraphernalia for outfits, jewellery making tools, cogs and gears. Even my 1960’s Trolls are resplendent in the tiny steampunk garb I made for them.

Some love affairs fade with time….this one if for keeps.

Details of The Asylum

http://steampunk.synthasite.com/

I have come to the conclusion that the splendid steampunk aesthetic is very good for Britain. Ever since falling head over heels in love/obsession with what some deem the retro Victorian/Edwardian SF movement, I have been astonished by the outburst of creativity it engenders. Up and down the country and internationally, steampunks are expressing themselves and with that comes a renaissance of exquisite craft. Steampunk means small companies and individual milliners, artists, jewellers, corset makers, gadget inventors, dress makers, tailors and crafters of all sorts of lovely . quirky things are flat out making beautiful objects of desire to sell. Charity shops also are benefiting from eager steampunks looking for things and clothes to adapt. I spend time now, hand making bustles from fabric sourced from charity shops!

Nothing brought this thought home to me more than a day spent at the first London Steampunk Market held in Islington, East London, on the 21st April. The venue was packed with stalls selling everything from cogalicious jewellery, exquisite hand crated brass goggles and steampunk fabric rabbits…these alone sold out within minutes! It was crowded yet relaxed, enormous fun and my cogling (son) and I cannot wait for the next one.

The old fashioned ethos of steampunk society is good for Britain too. Not just does it celebrate hand crafted things and individuality. Steampunk mottos include,  ‘Be Splendid’ and ‘Be Nice.’  An ideal, treating everyone with decency and good manners. To not taking yourself too seriously, to accepting people for who they are, regardless of creed, ethnicity, age and sexual orientation. Not particulary Victorian maybe, but this is a movement based on fantasy after all, an age that never existed beyond the minds of Jules Verne, HG Wells and other pioneers of SF.

Image

Beautiful hat made for me by April Oakley-Bartram

Steampunk is a vibrant movement, also inspiring novels, music and art. I love it with all my heart, my Cyrus Darian books are my humble contribution, as those who craft wonderful works of jewellery , fabulous hats etc are making theirs for the good of the community….and the economy. Britain used to make stuff. It still can!

My funny fantasy , The Unwise Woman of Fuggis Mire is now available to buy!

It can be ordered online, from all good bookshops, on Kindle and directly from Endaxi Press.

All the odds seemed stacked against me attending my first Alt Fiction in Derby, a one day convention to celebrate alternative fiction, horror, fantasy and sci fi.

I was invited to do a podcast…another first…a discussion about horror and dark fantasy with  author Kim Lakin Smith.

Of course two days before, a sore throat and the voice started going… a  nightmare…a mimed podcast has limited appeal…Then came the spectre of  Esme the ancient mini breaking down on the way as she was clearly not herself.

A couple of days frantically gargling medicine, looking up train time and the man of the house working hard on the car and everything finally fell into place. I was off the Alt Fiction.

A pre-conference night of insomnia, an early start and still fretting whether Esme could make it didn’t diminish my high spirits though I risked my throat singing show tunes all the way up the MI to keep alert and  awake. Shocked faces in passing cars confirmed my family’s insistance I should never, ever be allowed to sing Bali Hi…anywhere in the Universe.

I found the venue…The Quad in central Derby city easily and walked into the conference with a sigh of relief..made it !  The organising team of volunteers were marvels, good humoured, hard working and enthusiatic with smiles as bright as their red t shirts…you guys did an amazing job…thank you !

There were discussion panels running in two rooms all day, plus a busy program of podcasts with imput from the audiences, a dealers room and signings. I confess to being too busy nattering to other writers and readers to attend anything but two events. A lively discussion on horror and dark fantasy , chaired by Kim Lakin Smith with Marie O’Regan, Tim Lebbon and Paul Kane.  I also went to hear Rob Shearman give a reading of one of his strange and wonderful short stories brought to vibrant life by his excellent delivery. Also Graham Joyce  read from his latest book , he told us Hollywood has bought a film option on it prior to publication. Exciting ! You could hear a pin drop as we listened to such beautiful, moving writing.

Then it was time for the podcast. This turned out not to as daunting as I dreaded, Kim is a delightful, articulate lady and passionate about both her writing and the  dystopian city scapes, folklore and history that inspire  her. Kim’s work includes science fiction , gas and steam punk and dark fantasy short stories and novellas.  Her debut novel Tourniquet is published by Immanion Press.  We had a fascinating discussion with each other and with the enthusiastic audience and the hour seemed to pass  in an eyeblink!

By now exhausted, I left the conference still busy and buzzing. to return home but met disaster after a few miles along the A52. Esme began to spew smoke, filling up the car within seconds. I pulled over at a petrol station, terrifying the lone attendent convinced the car was about to explode and take us all out in a huge explosion. Another driver pointed out the water pouring out of the engine…it was smelly steam not smoke. Phew! None of us including Esme were destined to meet a fiery demise.

Luckily a knight in shining RAC uniform came swiflty to my rescue, fixed Esme and sent me on my way…singing more show tunes including another rendition of Bali Hi and inexplicably a medley of cockney knees up songs…anything to keep me awake!

A long, long and eventful day but well worth it, Alt Fiction is a gem of an event and highly recommended to all readers, new writers and published authors of speculative fiction.  It is busy therefore packed with events, yet fun and in an intimate setting that encourages strangers to chat to each other, a networking dream !