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Word Counts

Out of interest:

Retribution Falls: 133,423

The Black Lung Captain: 158,801

The Iron Jackal: 174,904

The Ace Of Skulls (rough draft): 183,609

See the trend there? I’m sure there must be some equation for this. I’m a zesty campaigner versus bloat in F/SF books, and I’m very aware in my own books that any scene in it needs to justify its inclusion. Yet even keeping it as trimmed as I possibly can, plotlines multiply, characters grow and demand more page time, payoffs need to be paid off… more and more needs to be fitted in. And there was a hell of a lot to be fitted in to this last book. You’ll see ūüėČ

I actually thought AOS was shorter than Iron Jackal till I totted it up. No wonder it took me so bloody long!

Anyways, I’m embarking on the edit proper tomorrow. Am actually quite excited to get out the editorial axe, even though I don’t usually have to swing it much these days, what with my hyper ruthless plotting techniques. ¬†Probably it will still end up the longest of the four, but that’s only natural. Each of the three previous books set up many things for the biggie at the end. So, er, here’s hoping you all like the finale! No pressure :-/

The Ace of Skulls is done!

Yes, you heard me.¬†The Ace of Skulls is done. In fact, the whole¬†Ketty Jay series is done. To see it all come together at the end, payoffs that have been five years or so in the making, it’s all rather spooky. All those characters I’ve had in my head all that time. Wow.

Those of you who’ve followed this blog will know that finishing the first write-through is not the end of the process; there’ll be edits, and re-edits, and all kinds of tweaking and bolt-tightening and all of that. But, like… it’s¬†done! I wrote the final line and everything. In fact, the entire finale was written in a frenetic rush amid flat-moving and Christmas and half a dozen other things, and I’ve been so ridiculously busy that all of a sudden it feels like a runaway train just shot off the end of the tracks and is now soaring gracefully through the air and into a very large and very deep canyon.

I’m off out to where beer lives. It seems the sensible thing to do.

Christmas Breeaaaaaaakkkk!!

Ah, Christmas. When I was a spry young thing I used to work 7 days a week, more or less, and Christmas was faintly annoying because it’s very hard to write while drunk and food is oozing out of your every orifice. But now I’m a raddled old shell of a man I actually have things like weekends and sometimes, rarely, even holidays! So right now I’m officially downing my quill for a week or so, the better to wallow in my own crapulence.

I said crapulence, not cr… ah, forget it.

Progress update: 39 chapters of The Ace of Skulls have been clubbed to death; 7 or 8 of the little critters are still gnashing at my ankles. I’d say it’s gonna come in about the same length as¬†The Black Lung Captain,¬†a little shorter than¬†The Iron Jackal. Still well on course for an autumn release next year. We’ve already had the cover art in and it looks ace. I’ll post it up once the designers have done their bit.

Broken Sky re-edit is crawling along slowly as I’m only really doing it on trains and buses and so forth: am concentrating on getting the¬†Ketty Jay stuff done for the moment. I’m some way into Act 2. I’d forgotten, like, everything that happens in that book.

No other news, really. It’ll pick up in the new year, honest!

Merry Christmas everybody!


Titan Books to Release The Iron Jackal and The Ace of Skulls in the US

Wow, you didn’t have to be patient for long! So here’s the news. I’m very pleased to announce that Titan Books are picking up the¬†Ketty Jay series in the US. The first two books were published by Spectra but when the editor who commissioned them left the company, the series was stuck in limbo for a long while. Thanks to Titan Books, US readers will now be able to complete the series without having to import them.

Though it’s early days and I don’t have all the details, I do know that various ebook rights were wrapped up in the deal too. So it’s a virtual certainty that ebooks will be made available alongside the print editions. I gather that this affects Canadian ebooks too, though I’m still probing and poking about to be sure that Kindle editions get out there in the Canadian market too, as I understand there’ve been problems getting them in the Amazon store.

Today I hit the three-quarter mark on Ace Of Skulls and am into the home straight. A part of me will be sad to end it, but mostly I’m excited. Four books is a long haul, the longest I’ve ever done, and I’m looking forward to getting closure on a series I’ve worked on and loved for four or five years now. I don’t think I have it in me to be a GRRM or a Robert Jordan, to devote decades to a story the way they have. One of the best things about a story, for me, is ending it: whether it’s something I write or something I read. I guess that’s the moment when you really comprehend the tale, and until it comes, you never knew quite what you were reading. Or indeed, what you were writing…

Patience, Patience

Been a while. As it stands, I’m almost three quarters through¬†The Ace Of Skulls, and I’ve completed the frankly epic task of editing¬†The Twilight War (which is Act One of Broken Sky¬†for all you old-schoolers, not a battle between glittery vampire bad-boy cliches over the heart of a simpering loser with no will of her own). Not sure when I’ll get to the next two but a quick skim tells me I won’t have to do half as much work on those guys. They’ll be done eventually, at which point I’ll make all three available together. That, at least, is the plan.

Now, for all you very lovely patient people who haven’t totally flipped out yet because The Iron Jackal is still not out in ebook in the US, and apparently the Ketty Jay¬†series isn’t available at all on ebook in Canada… I do have the answer. I just, er, can’t tell you ūüôĀ If you hang on juuuust a little longer I ought to be able to. I can say that they will be available, barring some kind of disaster, but I can’t tell you when, ’cause that part I don’t know myself yet. Anyway, it’s in hand. Apologies for the secrecy, but that’s the way business works I guess: slow and behind the scenes. It’s why it takes ages before I’m able to give definitive announcements on perennial favourites like:

1) Will there be a third¬†Malice book? (I doubt it. Let’s just say no, shall we? It’s easier.)

2) Will there be a sequel to¬†Pandemonium? (I hope so, but it’s up to the publishers.)

3) When will the movie version of (insert book here) come out? (Never, stop asking.)

4) Why don’t you make a movie of (insert book here)? (Because I don’t live in a house made of gold so I can’t afford to).

The Ace Of Skulls is taking a bit longer than I thought but is still well in hand for an October 2013 publication.¬†Silver is just getting the final checks before it goes to the printers so that’s all ready for its May release. Woo for 2013!

New Covers! New Covers!

I’m sure you already have chalked into your calendars that¬†Silver¬†is coming out in May, right? Well to coincide with that, Scholastic are reissuing three of my old favourites with new covers and, I understand, also in ebook (Silver will be ebooked as well). Here are the new covers for you to pore over.

Meanwhile, am on Chapter 28 of about 43 of¬†The Ace Of Skulls.¬†Spent days plotting out a mammoth action sequence which I’m just about ready to start writing. You did know that all them great big action sequences were a delicately balanced sculpture of interweaving narratives and character beats rather than just a load of people shooting at each other, didn’t you? Good, just checking.

Rolling along…

Slow news year. Seriously, unless something unexpected happens there will be literally nothing to report till the New Year; I’ll just be tapping away at The Ace Of Skulls. I should probably start filling this blog up with fluff about my personal opinions of people who play their headphones too loud on the Tube, or a lengthy blow-by-blow of my exploits on Football Manager 2013 when that comes out. Actually, no.

So here’s where I am: have hit the halfway point of The Ace Of Skulls.¬†After a bit of a sticky patch it’s all going swell, and I’m over the hump and onto the downward slope towards¬†the very end of the Ketty Jay series oh my god!!! Meanwhile I’ve been editing those old Broken Sky files but I have seriously, like¬†seriously underestimated the amount of time it’s going to take to get them shipshape. This is gonna be a big job. I’m not even through the first one yet. Beginning to wish I hadn’t started it and just put them out as they were…

All forms of film news: nothing to report.

In the immortal words of House Stark: Autumn is boring.


Broken Sky Ebux Redux!!!

Wow, it’s been a while, huh? Sorry about that. A veritable Sahara of news since May, really. But now I have something to announce, so gather close, you lot!

First order of business is¬†The Ace Of Skulls.¬†I’m a quarter way through and it’s all going very nicely, thank you. However, I think it’s probably now time to let you know that this will be the last of the¬†Tales Of The Ketty Jay. No, put down your knives/poison canisters/thermite detonators, this is for your own good, you know! I always intended that the KJ series was going to be a series of standalones with an overarching story that I could draw to a close in one book. In the planning of this book I came to realise that I’ve just about reached the limit in that sense. There’s already so much stuff to tie up after three books. Either this series was going to metamorphosise into a much more sprawling tale, and risk rambling off into infinity, or I could close it down while I still have it under control and while I can still deliver a book with the necessary pace and verve to keep all you hungry KJ fans happy right till the final page. So I plumped for the latter. I’d rather leave you with four good books than three good, three medium and one that leaves you with a nasty taste in your mouth like you just chewed on a piece of rancid biltong. At least this way you’ll get a proper ending and you won’t go all Mass Effect 3 on my ass (incidentally, the ending to that series was fine, don’t know what all the fuss was about…)

Secondly, some crazy exciting weird news. Broken Sky is coming to ebook! And I’m doing it myself! Eep.

So here’s the story. Scholastic didn’t want to republish Broken Sky so they weren’t willing to put it out in ebook form, and therefore the rights for the books came back to me. However, Broken Sky was written so long ago that I didn’t even have Word at the time and I lost all the original files. Scholastic rather kindly provided me the pdfs of the books to work off, and I converted them to ebook formats and then started going through them to sort out the inevitable formatting errors that arose.


Well, I’d gone about half a paragraph before I was like ‘Ooh, that’s not a very clever sentence. Would make more sense if I just changed it around a bit. There.’ And then three lines on I was like ‘Wait a minute, I just used that word. Better change it.’ And then a bit further and I was like ‘Man, this bit doesn’t even make sense’ and… well, you see what’s happened. Thirteen years on, I like to think I’m a bit of a better writer than I was back then, and I just couldn’t resist the urge to start editing them. And like Ripley with Newt, now I’ve made a clean spot, I have to do the rest.

Now don’t worry, I’m not going all George Lucas on ’em. The story, characters, all of that are just where you left ’em. All I’m doing is tidying up the grammar, making sentences clearer, getting rid of repetition and redundant parts, all that boring stuff. It is taking me ages, but I think it’s worth it, as I still have a warm glowy place in my heart for Broken Sky. Think of this as Broken Sky Remastered rather than a director’s cut.

Anyway, I am now entering the strange world of self-publishing, where few published authors have bothered¬† dared to tread. I’m still a bit hazy as to what I’ll do with it once I’ve finished polishing it up, and it is gonna take a good while to go through all the books since I’m busy working on The Ace Of Skulls,¬†but eventually I plan to release them in Kindle format and ePub for all other e-readers. Really,¬†my primary concern is that I don’t want these books to go out of print. Because they’re ace. And that’s final ūüėõ

Watch this space, as ever…


Iron Jackal MMP released, Kindle price drop (er, I think…)

Just a quickie to let anyone who has SOMEHOW MANAGED TO RESTRAIN THEMSELVES from buying The Iron Jackal yet, it’s now out in mass market paperback in the UK, and therefore cheaper. You can get it for just under a fiver in the UK and ¬£4.99 on Kindle (which I assume is a price drop from the trade paperback Kindle edition to fall in line with the MMP). Epub editions are also at ¬£4.99.

US readers, still no news from Spectra on whether it’s coming out on your shores yet (I understand they’re waiting for an outline for Book 4, which I just delivered to my editor like 10 minutes ago). So you can get it for the fractionally more expensive price of ¬£6 (or the equivalent in dollars) at Book Depository. However, since that includes free international shipping it probably actually works out cheaper, or something.

Having spent an eternity plotting out The Ace Of Skulls (Tales of the Ketty Jay 4)¬†to achieve the infinitely complex tesseract of plot, character, drama and good old machine-gunning-people-in-the-face that my hungry readers demand, I’m about ready to get going on it at last. ¬†Although first I have to edit Silver. Anyway, it’s all on schedule and well in hand. I’m planning to deliver by the end of the year, with tentative pub date Sept/Oct 2013, though possibly earlier if the schedule allows.


It’s Eastercon¬†again! This time in London. Residents of Hatton Cross are already barring their doors and sealing up the windows with the blood of a recently baptised goat.

Since it’s in the city where I live there’s really no excuse for me not to turn up and blaze a flaming swathe through the bar area. I shall be attending on the Friday and Saturday, and possibly crawling in on Sunday morning so all can behold my ruined and broken remains, that I may serve as a warning to others. In between I’ll be sitting on a couple of panels, one about constructing and using magic/technological systems in stories and another about worldbuilding, cos I can rattle on about that stuff for ages. Both are on Saturday at the moment, though it’s possible things will be shifted around a bit before the event.

This year George R R Martin is among the guests of honour, so it should be a good ‘un.

See you there!