Sunday 30 June 2013

Happy Book Birthday to Joanne Hall and THE ART OF FORGETTING: RIDER!

Today is the official publication day for Joanne Hall's THE ART OF FORGETTING: RIDER (book 1 of The Art of Forgetting sequence). Joanne is a fellow hound minion, the driving force behind the awesome BristolCon, and an all-round nice person, and when she asked if I'd like to read an early copy of the novel, I jumped at the chance – and loved it! Compelling and beautifully written, it's not a book I'll be forgetting any time soon. So to help celebrate her book birthday, I asked Joanne to pop over to the blog and answer a few questions. Take it away, Joanne!
When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
I always wrote little stories right from when I could first write, and I used to fold them into “books” – I think my granny still has a book I wrote about a lion when I was about five. Then when I was about six or seven I discovered that writing books was a proper job that people did, and I ditched my initial plan to become a Jedi and decided I would write books instead.

What drew you to writing fantasy/SF?
When I was growing up, the house was always full of books of all kinds. My dad would take me to the cinema to watch fantasy films, and I was lucky enough to grow up in the 1980’s, which was a great period for family friendly fantasy and SF films. My mum and her brother are both SF and Fantasy fans, and they let me raid their bookshelves as much as I liked. It was my Uncle Rob, when I was moaning that I’d read all the good books in the school library and I was bored with reading about kids like me, who lent me The Belgariad (I think I was about ten). About the same time a girl I was friends with at school lent me Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonflight – those are the books that are chiefly responsible for making me the nerd I am today. I read everything in the genre that I could get my hands on, which wasn’t much as we lived in a tiny village with no bookshop, and it was a long trip into town to go to Smiths or Waterstones, but my mum was a passionate library-goer, and it was through the library that I discovered David Gemmell, Terry Pratchett, Marion Zimmer Bradley... It seemed natural that the stories I wrote were fantasy, because that was what I loved to read.

Who inspires you?
I suck up inspiration from all over the place, like a blobby old sponge. It can be anything – there was a story on the news last night about a man who goes fishing every morning in the Fukushima fall-out zone, even though the fish are radioactive and he has to put them back, because that’s where he used to fish and now it’s the only thing in his life that’s normal. That kicked off all sorts of story ideas. As for people; my friends who are also writers inspire me and push me on to do better. Inspiration – it’s kind of a hard thing to quantify....

What is the best and worst advice you've been given about writing?
“Write what you know” is terrible advice, and it’s one I hear a lot. If everyone just stuck to writing what they knew, where would speculative fiction be? Far better to write what you love, what you’re interested in, what you feel passionate about. And if you don’t know about what you’re writing about, get out there and learn about it!
The best advice always seems to come from my friend Gareth L Powell, who posts regular advice columns on his blog, but most of my favourites, and the advice I turn back to over and over again, are the ones about getting the ruddy thing finished. All first drafts suck; you can’t edit a blank page; get it written, then get it right. I find myself repeating these on a regular basis!

Can you tell us about your journey to becoming published author?
I wrote a book (Hierath), I sent it out to everywhere I could think of, I amassed a lovely collection of “Thanks-but-no-thanks” letters, and while I was doing that I wrote another book. By the time the second book was finished, I had an acceptance for a trilogy from Epress Online, a small press publisher based in Florida, so I wrote the third book. Publishing takes a really long time, so while I was editing the books that they had accepted, I started work on another book.
Sadly, the two woman who ran Epress, Joan McNulty Pulver and Margaret Carr, died within a few months of each other, and the company folded and the rights where returned to me. So I had three books out but no publisher, one finished manuscript (The Art of Forgetting) and another one that was halfway through. So I started looking for a publisher all over again, and I can tell you it’s no easier second time around. I found my current publishers, Kristell Ink, on Twitter. They’re a new publisher based in Oxford, and I was keen to go with them because they had no upper word limit (Art of Forgetting is loooong….). It didn’t take long for them to get back to me, and they said they loved it, only… “it’s a bit long….” Which is why it’s coming out in two volumes!

What is your dream writing day like?
Get up, have a cup of tea, walk the dog in the sunshine, write 1500 words of scintillating brilliance before a lunch of coffee and calorie-free cake with a good friend, write another 1500 words of scintillating brilliance, walk the dog, come back to find tea cooked for me by my boyfriend, curl up with a movie or a good book (This Never Happens)

And what's your actual writing day like?
Fall out of bed, groan at my hair, drag the dog around in the rain, stare at a keyboard until my eyeballs bleed, fart around on Twitter, type a bit, delete it, do some admin, fart around on Twitter some more…  I try and write 1000 words a day between bouts of hideous procrastination and furious admin-ing, and I usually get most of them done before lunch, because I’m more awake in the mornings. But I’m the world’s most easily distracted person, so it doesn’t always work out like that!

What's your favourite...

Star Wars : A New Hope. PROPER Star Wars, watched at an impressionable age. I’ve seen it a million times, but if I turn on the TV and it’s on I’ll still drop whatever I’m doing and watch it. Other favourites are Labyrinth, Terminator, Dogma and The Princess Bride.

Song/piece of music?
“Motorcycle Emptiness” by Manic Street Preachers. The Manics are my all-time favourite band, I’ve seen them live dozens of times. I worked in record shops for years, and I’m into all kinds of music.

“The Lord of The Rings” – I don’t read it that often, but when I go back to it I’m reminded why I love it – it’s the perfect fantasy novel.
Links – my blog – publishers
@hierath77 – Twitter 

About Joanne
Joanne Hall is the same age as Star Wars, which explains a lot….  She lives in Bristol, England with her partner.  She enjoys reading, writing, listening to music, playing console games, watching movies, eating chocolate and failing to exercise.

A full-time author since 2003, Joanne’s “New Kingdom” fantasy trilogy was published by Epress Online, and was a finalist in both the PLUTO and EPPIE awards .  Her short stories have appeared in many publications, both print and online, including Afterburn SF, Quantum Muse, and The Harrow.
She has had short stories published in several anthologies, including “Pirates of the Cumberland Basin” in Future Bristol, and “Corpse Flight” in Dark Spires.  Her short story collection, “The Feline Queen” was published in March 2011 by Wolfsinger Publications, and her fourth novel, “The Art of Forgetting”, has been accepted for publication by Kristell Ink and will be released towards the end of 2013.

For the last four years, Joanne has been the Chair of BristolCon, Bristol’s premier (and only!) science fiction and fantasy convention  She also runs the Bristol Fantasy and SF Society Facebook group, and occasionally works in an editing position for Dark Ocean Studios, a small comics company based in San Jose, as well as taking on freelance editing projects.

She is the co-editor, with Roz Clarke and Rick Novy, of “Colinthology”, a tribute anthology to the late Colin Harvey, which also includes her short story “Lukewarm in Lynhelm.”  “Colinthology” was published as an ebook in October 2012 by Wizards Tower, and launched at BristolCon.
She sometimes answers to “BristolCon” and talks about herself in the third person on the internet.  She is always happy to hear from readers, either via the “Talk to Me” form or via Twitter ( @hierath77 ).


A young boy leaves his village to become a cavalryman with the famous King’s Third regiment; in doing so he discovers both his past and his destiny.

Gifted and cursed with a unique memory, the foundling son of a notorious traitor, Rhodri joins an elite cavalry unit. There, struggling with his own memories of his father, he begins to discover a sense of belonging. That is, until a face from the past reveals a secret that will change not only Rhodri’s life but the fate of a nation. Gifted and cursed with a unique memory, the foundling son of a notorious traitor, Rhodri joins an elite cavalry unit. There, struggling with his own memories of his father, he begins to discover a sense of belonging. That is, until a face from the past reveals a secret that will change not only Rhodri’s life but the fate of a nation.Gifted and cursed with a unique memory, the foundling son of a notorious traitor, Rhodri joins an elite cavalry unit stationed in the harbour town of Northpoint. His training reveals his talents and brings him friendship, love and loss, and sexual awakening; struggling with his memories of his father who once ruled there, he begins to discover a sense of belonging. That is, until a face from the past reveals a secret that will change not only Rhodri’s life but the fate of a nation. Then, on his first campaign, he is forced to face the extremes of war and his own nature.

This, the first part of The Art of Forgetting, is a gripping story about belonging and identity, set in a superbly imagined and complex world that is both harsh and beautiful.

What others are saying about THE ART OF FORGETTING: RIDER
‘A roistering romp, with darker undercurrents... Intriguing characters in a setting both familiar and different'
Francis Knight, author of ‘Fade to Black’, Orbit publishing

‘...another excellent addition to Joanne Hall’s rapidly growing collection of published works.’
Robert Harkess, author of ‘Aphrodite’s Dawn’, Salt Publishing.

‘With characters real enough to touch and a storyline that tugs on the heartstrings . . . a tale that will linger long after the pages close.’

Saturday 1 June 2013

Interview With Leigh Ann Kopans, Author of ONE

I've been excited about this post for a looooong time. I first met Leigh Ann Kopans on Twitter after discovering her blog, which is packed full of insight, humour and honesty. When she announced that she would be self-publishing her debut novel, ONE, and asked me if I would like to read an early copy, I jumped at the chance because I'd already heard a lot about it and was desperate to get hold of it. And oh my goodness, WHAT A BOOK. I seriously loved it. It's original, fast-paced and has a strong, edgy main character who doesn't need anyone to rescue her, thank you very much. Here's the cover (isn't it gorgeous?) and the blurb:

When having two powers makes you a Super and having none makes you a Normal, having only one makes you a sad half-superpowered freak.

It makes you a One.

Sixteen-year-old Merrin Grey would love to be able to fly – too bad all she can do is hover.

If she could just land an internship at the Biotech Hub, she might finally figure out how to fix herself. She busts her butt in AP Chem and salivates over the Hub’s research on the manifestation of superpowers, all in hopes of boosting her chances.

Then she meets Elias VanDyne, another One, and all her carefully crafted plans fly out the window. Literally. When the two of them touch, their Ones combine to make them fly, and when they’re not soaring over the Nebraska cornfields, they’re busy falling for each other.

Merrin's mad chemistry skills land her a spot on the Hub's internship short list, but as she gets closer to the life she always wanted, she discovers that the Hub’s purpose is more sinister than it has always seemed. Now it’s up to her to decide if it's more important to fly solo, or to save everything - and everyone - she loves.

So, to celebrate the impending release of ONE, which is out on 11th June, I invited Leigh Ann to take part in a one-themed interview…
 Hi, Leigh Ann, and welcome to the blog!
Thank you so much! I’ve been reading your blog forever, so I’m seriously fangirling that I’m ON it. Whoa. Just…whoa.

Can you sum up your novel, ONE, in one sentence?
ONE is about Merrin Grey, a girl with half a superpower, the boy who makes her fly, and the terrifying truths about the Supers’ Biotechnology Hub they must uncover to survive.

What is the one thing you hope readers take away with them after reading the novel?
That they should never take “no” for an answer.  If you want something badly enough, find a way to make it happen.

Name one thing that inspired you while you were writing ONE (and why).
Music was a HUGE inspiration! So many songs are about the desire to fly, literally or figuratively, or the sky, which is my main character Merrin’s obsession.

What is the one piece of advice you'd give to aspiring authors?
Surround yourself with people who will give you two things: The critique you need and the support you need. Both are invaluable.

What is the one thing you can't manage without when you're writing?
Coffeeandchocolate. If I say them together like that, do they count as one thing?

Definitely! :D If you had to pick one favourite book, what would it be?
Jane Eyre. It has it all – the creepies, the romance, the drama. It was my first book love, and I think it’ll be my last, too.

If you had to pick one favourite song, what would it be?
Just one? Like, for all moods? You are TOUGH, Emma! Right now, I’m going to say “Happiness” by the Fray, because it encompasses so many different ones.

If you had to pick one favourite place, where would it be?
My husband and I visited Arizona last year, and it’s my new dream home (sorry, Ohio!) The dry heat, the glorious sunshine, the big red rocks and cacti, and all the open space…it’s like an introverted writer with Seasonal Affective Disorder’s dream.

If you had to pick one favourite food, what would it be?
A macaron ice cream sandwich from Jeni’s Ice Creams. Pure heaven. (

And one last thing… If you could have one superpower for a day, what would it be (and why)?
Just one day? I’d fly, for sure. Just like Merrin.

Thank you so much for having me today, Emma! You’ve been such an incredible friend and support throughout my debut process and I can’t thank you enough. 

 You're so welcome, Leigh Ann - thank you for such great answers! I wish you every success with ONE and hope that everyone who reads it loves it as much as I do! 

What people are saying about One: 

One balances a fully imagined, super world with deep, well-crafted characters and took me on a heart pounding, heartbreakingly authentic journey I hated to see end. 

~Trisha Leigh, author of The Last Year series and the upcoming The Historians

 I opened One and didn't put it down. On the surface it's a fast-paced superhero story combined with all the wonderful and terrible aspects of teenage life, but beneath that is the story of a girl who only wants to be more than she is. It's a fun adventure cloaking a simple but powerful truth of the human condition. 

~Francesca Zappia, author of the upcoming Ask Again Later (Greenwillow/HarperCollins 2014)

And here's my blurb (you can read the rest of my review on Goodreads here-

Exciting, edgy, romantic and beautifully written, ONE is a book from an incredible new writing talent that will leave you longing for more! 

About Leigh Ann
Raised on comic books and classic novels, Leigh Ann developed an early love of science fiction and literature. As an adult, she rediscovered her love for not only reading, but also writing the types of fiction that enchanted her as a teen. Her debut novel, ONE, is about a girl with only half a superpower, the boy who makes her fly, and her struggle to make herself whole.

Leigh Ann, her husband, and four children live in Columbus, Ohio. When she’s not immersed in the world of fiction, you can find her obsessing over the latest superhero movie or using her kids as an excuse to go out for ice cream (again.)


Twitter: @LeighAnnKopans

Any Other Name Is Here - Join The Shenanigans!


I'm really pleased to welcome Emma Newman back to the blog today. A writer of post-apocalyptic fiction and short stories, Emma is also the author of The Split Worlds, a quirky urban fantasy series published by Angry Robot Books. The first book, Between Two Thorns, came out earlier this year and has been receiving rave reviews. Now, the second book in the series, Any Other Name, is being unleashed on the world, and Emma has asked me to take part in the celebrations. Of course, I said yes!

Here's the blurb (doesn't it sound good?!):

Any Other Name follows on directly after the events in Between Two Thorns. Cathy is secretly seeking a way out of Nether Society by helping Max and the gargoyle to investigate the murders in the Bath Chapter. When she learns more about the mysterious Agency which oils the wheels of life in the Nether it becomes clear that the privileged few are enjoying their existence at a price far higher than they realised. It's time to change Nether society, but with assassins, Fae lords and revengeful fallen Rosas to deal with, can Cathy survive long enough to make a difference?


Pre-order/buy the book here:


Release date: 28th May US/Canada paperback, audio and e-book worldwide, 6th June 2013 UK paperback

Signed copies will be available from Toppings Books, Bath and Forbidden Planet.

Pre-order options

UK Print & Ebook | Book Depository | Waterstones |
US Print & Ebook | |
DRM-Free Epub Ebook
On-sale May 28th 2013 from the Robot Trading Company

Pre-order the audio version from The Book Depository |

And now for the shenanigans!

Emma has hidden descriptions of objects from Any Other Name on the Split Worlds website. They can only be found via direct links, and there are going to be 12 in total, so look out for the other links! Here's the one for this blog...

As for Emma, you can find her on her website, on Twitter and on Facebook. Thanks for letting me host you today, Emma, and very best of luck with Any Other Name - I can't wait to read it!