Fans of the legendary fantasy works of J.R.R. Tolkien could easily be forgiven for thinking that this year’s season for elves and orcs behaving badly ended earlier this month, with the ever-popular Middle Earth Festival (originally the Tolkien Weekend) taking place at and around Sarehole Mill in Hall Green, Birmingham, a place which inspired the writer and academic from the days of his youth.
But if you look a little further north this weekend, you will find some competition for the longer-established event going on in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where they are holding their own Tolkien Weekend 2016 on Saturday, 24th and Sunday, 25th September , with a programme of events coordinated by Time and Tide Events of Tyne & Wear.
For this alternate Tolkien Weekend, the venue is Newcastle Castle, and admission is, like the unconnected Birmingham event, free of charge, in this case with stalls and entertainment being located inside the Castle Keep and Black Gate.
A Tolkien fringe
Fringe events include an art exhibition, ‘Illuminating Tolkien’, at St Nicholas Cathedral (20th-25th September, with a preview evening on Friday 19th), and a Beowulf Evening at The Bridge Hotel (24th September, 7pm), featuring a performance of the famous Old English poem.
Guest of honour Royd Tolkien will be talking about his great-grandfather’s legacy at a Q&A session at 3pm on Saturday 24th.
Newcastle’s second event
This is the second annual weekend in Newcastle celebrating the works of J.R.R. Tolkien – the Castle being the meeting place of regional Tolkien Society group or smialArnor – aka The Fellowship of the North.
The David Gemmell Awards For Fantasy enter their eighth year in 2016, once again recognising and rewarding the very best in fantasy fiction and artwork. 2016 also marks the tenth anniversary of the untimely death of bestselling author David Gemmell, in whose memory the awards were created.
2016’s Gemmell Awards presentation will take place at FantasyCon, the UK’s longest-running fantasy fiction convention. This year, FantasyCon will be held in Scarborough between 23rd and 25th September, with the Gemmell Awards ceremony staged at 8pm on Saturday 24th September.
FantasyCon is the British Fantasy Society’s annual conference and has been part of the UK scene since its inception in 1972. Past guests include Joan Aiken, Clive Barker, Terry Brooks, Ramsey Campbell, Raymond E Feist, Jasper Fforde, Joanne Fletcher, James Herbert, Robert Holdstock, Tom Holt, Sarah Pinborough, Graham Joyce, Tanith Lee, Anne McCaffrey, George RR Martin, Michael Marshall Smith and Tad Williams.
This years Guests of Honour are leading US author Scott Lynch, Costa Book Award winner Frances Hardinge and leading British horror author Adam Nevill, with more to be announced in due course.
Stan Nicholls, Chair for the Gemmell Awards, said: “FantasyCon is a popular and much-loved highlight in the speculative fiction community’s calendar, and a perfect fit for the Gemmell Awards. We look forward to contributing to the UK’s premier fantasy event.”
James Barclay, President of the British Fantasy Society says: “The BFS is delighted to be hosting the Gemmell Awards at FantasyCon 2016. It’s always a special occasion, and one that’s very close to my heart.”
Alex Davis, the Chair for FantasyCon By The Sea (2016), said: “Over the last eight years the Gemmell Awards have become one of the most popular and respected prizes in the field, and it is a hugely exciting addition to our programme and a genuine honour to be hosting this prestigious event at FantasyCon.”
Northumberland-based publishers Tickety Boo Press have announced the signing of military science fiction-writer and British Army veteran Paul P Corcoran, author of the Amazon best-selling ‘Saiph’ novels.
Paul is coming aboard as Editor of Tickety Boo’s Space Dock imprint, which is dedicated to finding and publishing new and established authors writing Space Opera, Military SF, Post-Apocalyptic, Time Travel and ‘Alien Worlds’ tales. Paul is, say the publishers, “…perfectly situated to bring exciting, hard-hitting, character-driven novels to a constantly growing market.”
The Scotsman joined the British Army in 1985 and went on to join their elite parachute force, 5 Airborne Brigade, spending four years there until moving on to various intelligence and signals units for the remainder of his twenty-two year’s service. After serving in many areas of operations including: Africa, the Balkans, Central America, Northern Ireland, the Middle East and South East Asia, Paul returned to civvy street but continues to work in the security field in a private capacity.
Tickety Boo Press (TBP) said “Paul Corcoran is ideally suited to running Space Dock – not only has he served in the military in various roles, including security and intelligence, but his knowledge of the military and his love of Science Fiction have already combined into becoming a full-time career as a writer of action-packed SF.”
Dave de Burgh, Acquiring Editor for Tickety Boo Press, went on, “Paul brings a wealth of expertise and experience to Tickety Boo Press, and I’m looking forward to revealing all the wonderful authors he’ll discover.”
Gary Compton, Managing Director of TBP, said, “I think when you are a fan of someone as a writer and a person, to then work with them is amazing. With Paul’s contacts and fans, I have no doubt he will be a great asset to Tickety Boo Press Ltd.”
Paul had the following to say regarding his appointment to Editor for the Space Dock Imprint:
“I’m really excited about the prospect of finding new up and coming talent and, with the help of the team at Tickety Boo Press, introducing their work to a worldwide audience.”
The Space Dock Imprint is currently open to submissions, see here.
Saturday 24 September 2016 will see the launch of two new titles from The Alchemy Press: The Private Life of Elder Things and Something Remains. The launch takes place at 12 noon, during the Saturday programme at FantasyCon, which this year takes place ‘by the sea’ in Scarborough. Besides these two titles, say the publishers, there will be wine and, all being well, “…some other freebies”.
The Private Life of Elder Things is a collection of related tales “…from the expert hands and mercurial minds of Adrian Tchaikovsky, Adam Gauntlett and Keris McDonald”.
From the wastes of the sea to the shadows of our own cities, we are not alone. But what happens where the human world touches the domain of races ancient and alien? Museum curators, surveyors, police officers, archaeologists, mathematicians; from derelict buildings to country houses to the London Underground, another world is just a breath away, around the corner, watching and waiting for you to step into its power. The Private Life of Elder Things is a collection of new Lovecraftian fiction about confronting, discovering and living alongside the creatures of the Mythos.
Adrian Tchaikovsky and Keris McDonald will be on hand during the launch to autograph books. Adam Gauntlett is sadly unable to attend, being “…stuck far away in Bermuda, which just on this occasion isn’t as fun as Scarborough”, say the publishers.
Something Remains, edited by Peter Coleborn and Pauline E Dungate, collects over 30 stories based on and inspired by the notes left behind after respected and popular author Joel Lane’s sad and sudden death in 2013. The 400+ page book also includes verse and essays about the sorely missed man.
The premise of Something Remains is this: friends and colleagues of Joel selected story ideas from the wealth of notes he left. The stories are not intended to be slavish pastiches, but tales inspired by Joel’s fertile imagination.
Among the contributors expected to be attending the launch are Tim Lebbon, Simon Bestwick, Lynda E Rucker, John Llewellyn Probert, Gary McMahon, Thana Niveau and Alison Littlewood, as well as Ramsey Campbell who penned an Afterword.
The Alchemy Press dealer’s table at FantasyCon will also stock the recently published The Complete Weird Epistles of Penelope Pettiweather, Ghost Hunter by Jessica Amanda Salmonson as well as the publisher’s back catalogue.
The Complete Weird Epistles of Penelope Pettiweather, Ghost Hunter comprises fourteen stories — or epistles, rather — detailing Penelope’s quest to understand the nature of ghosts. Full of the rich history and landscape of Salmonson’s northwest USA, these quiet tales will “…appeal to the fan of the traditional ghost story”.
The Alchemy Press is an award-winning small press publisher located in Cheadle, Staffordshire, and is headed by publisher and editor-in-chief Peter Coleborn and co-publisher and editor Jan Edwards.
The Gollancz Festival is back, and is almost upon us (in fact, the online version has already begun!). This year, the oldest specialist SF & Fantasy publisher in the UK (now the science fiction and fantasy imprint of the Orion Publishing Group) is working with Foyles bookshop in Charing Cross Road, London to bring readers two days of events. There is also an online event programme – see below.
The publisher has three different bookshop panel events running from 17th-18th September at Foyles. These events are planned to be three hours long and cost £15 each to attend. Prospective attendees can discover more about participating authors, panel events and times on the Foyles website.
Gollancz are also holding a party for readers and authors on the 17th September, including a brief talk from three major fantasy authors as well as a chance to meet and talk to some of your favourite authors. Ticket price for the Gollancz Festival party will be £15 and will include two drinks and nibbles. You can find out more and buy your tickets via this link.
This year Gollancz are also presenting an entire day dedicated to writers, teaming up with Foyles and The Phoenix Artist Club to offer a special day of workshops, intimate author panels and agent advice.
The Gollancz Festival for Writers will run over two three-hour sessions on the 17th September. Space is very limited. Tickets cost £25 per session. You can find out more and buy your tickets via this link.
Gollancz Festival online
For those unable to attend the bookshop events in London, there is also an online Gollancz Festival with digital events running from the 12th-16th September. This year Gollancz are working with Hachette Australia and New Zealand to organise exciting online events in the week leading up to the bookshop programme at Foyles and the Phoenix Artist Club. For updates on digital events please register your interest at GollanczFest.co.uk.
Prognostications and predictions of West Midlands genre literary events coming up this month.
I think there is sometimes a perception that there is no literary activity outside of London. Well if you live in the Midlands and are interested in SF/Fantasy writing and books then the following is a list of some of the interesting events that are I know are happening in the area this October. Most of them are inexpensive or even free and a great chance to meet and talk to authors, editors and fans of the SF/F/ Horror genre. So what are you waiting for?
Double book launch by local authors, Lucy Onions (SHOUT THE CALL) and James Josiah (C90) with additional readings by other authors, live music, free food and drink. Southcart Books, 20 Lower Hall Lane, Walsall. WS1 1RL. Check the Facebook event page for more details.
NOTTINGHAM WRITERS’ CLUB SPECIAL SCIFI NIGHT, 21st October, Nottingham
Shellie Horst swashbuckles her way into the virtual presence of Sussex, England-based author Julia Knight (sometimes aka Francis Knight) and makes off with a copy of her latest book for our first competition.
Like many publishers, Orbit’s website likes to tantalise us readers; snippets of new releases sit alongside decadent covers. In that sea of promising stories, though, one cover reveal stood out from the masses.
It’s fantasy – I get that from the sharp pointy thing he’s holding, not to mention the equally sharp blade she’s brandishing. Two people on the cover, no hoods either.
That is different, in this world of ‘hooded-man-with-sword’ covers.
I haven’t read it, yet. This isn’t a review. But that cover is certainly doing what it’s supposed to. (Well done Gene Mollica and Wendy Chan) Intriguing.
In this cruel world of the fantasy genre, where an up-to-the-minute reader must wait a year or so for their next fix, publishers Orbit go on to inform us that we can read all three books in Julia’s Duellist trilogy – in the same year. October, November, and December. That’s the winter reads sorted then!
I asked Julia if she would be willing to be interviewed by a complete stranger whom she has only ever crossed words with on the internet and go figure, the lovely lady said yes. Obviously then the first question has to be:
SH: Is this one very thick doorstep of a book, slicedinto three parts or more of a traditional trilogy?
JK:It’s, well a little of both I suppose. Each book has its own story, but there is also an overarching story of Kacha and Vocho (the two rather glorious people on the cover) and Petri, who is something of a divisive element between them. So it’s not one big book a la Tolkien, but while you could read each on their own, you’ll get more from the later books if you’ve read the earlier ones.
SH: There is a definite East European/Russian flavour to the blurb, as an Adventure Fantasy featuring reluctant highwaymen should readers expect a Three Musketeers meets Anastasia feel? No? What then?
JK:Oh that’s a great way to describe it! There was definitely a Musketeers influence – revolutions, ineffectual kings, swashbuckling – but with my own sort of twists. I read a lot of historical non-fiction which that kind of leaks in as we go….so we’ve got a bit of Russian, a hint of revolutionary France, a soupcon of post-Moorish Spain, all wrapped up in some fantasy.
SH: Did you have to lock yourself away in room to write the whole series before the Swords and Scoundrels publication?
JK:Pretty much! Every spare moment was spent writing. Luckily I had some regular train journeys, which helped. However, I had as much time before publication as my previous series – it was just that I had to have the books ready before the publication started, as opposed to writing/editing as we went.
SH: If you could seal off a building or place to have it all to yourself and write without interruption, where or what would it be?
JK:Somewhere really remote – a croft in the Scottish highlands or somewhere out of the way in Norway. If I felt like somewhere warmer, I would happily tap away in the courtyard of a riad in Morocco*. I’ve written in all three places, and the peace and quiet, the view out of the window, never fails to get me going.
*Oh, hark at me, don’t I sound glamorous. This merely means I write even on family holidays.
SH: What is your most favourite aspect of the Duellist’s Trilogy? (Finishing it isn’t allowed as an answer.)
JK:The dynamic between Kacha and Vocho. Brother and sister, they love each other (when they remember to) and rely on each other, but they’re like chalk and cheese and rub each other up the wrong way just as often. There’s a nice bit of sibling rivalry between them, along with some jealousy. It makes their scenes fun to write!
SH: You’ve developed a reputation for creating interesting characters, but the Duellist trilogy offers us two main characters, siblings Kacha and Vocho. Did these two materialise at the same creative moment or is one more vocal than the other?
JK:They turned up together – I think it’s fair to say neither would be as they are if not for the other. Vocho definitely talks more. Mostly about himself! Kacha is more the thinker of the pair. But neither can imagine life without the other by their side so they had to be together when they came.
SH: Do you have a favourite?
JK:Between those two? No. I love Vocho because he might be self absorbed but he’s trying to do his best, and he’s funny. I love Kacha because of her determination, her ambition and the fact she’s not afraid to speak her mind. Mostly to Vocho…
SH: And finally, as I know you’re part of the illustrious T-Party, a London-based writing group providing support to authors, if you had the chance to meet yourself at the start of your writing career, what would you say?
JK:Tempted though I am to say “Never give up, never surrender!” I’d say, read a lot, write a lot, find knowledgeable people to give you honest feedback. Write what you love and keep on subbing!
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Julia. Good luck with the new series!
Book one of The Duellist trilogy, Swords and Scoundrels, is out now.
Book two Legends and Liars will be available in November, with a December release scheduled for Warlords and Wastrels. Rather than sitting on your hands, you can pre-order the series now from bookstores and online suppliers.
More details about the Duellists series can be found on the Orbit website.
Shellie Horst is a freelance copywriter who writes various amounts of fantasy and SF, more often than not inspired by Yorkshire’s history. As well as ghost writing, her fictional work has been published by www.AlfieDog.com. 2015 will see the completion of her Creative Writing Degree. She’ll be working on interactive narratives as part of Hull’s Humber Mouth Literature Festival in November. You can follow her progress on her website www.millymollymo.com
COMPETITION WINNER ANNOUNCED
Our SWORDS AND SCOUNDRELS competition has now been won by gilla01 who was chosen at random from all those who submitted entry comments to this page by 31 October 2015! Gilla will be contacted direct by our interviewer Shellie Horst.
Our grateful thanks go to Julia Knight for taking part and providing the prize, as well as to Shellie for an excellent interview.
Not to mention everyone who took the time to comment and spread the word – thank you all!
Justina studied philosophy and linguistics at the University of York before she worked in a variety of jobs – including secretary, technical writer, and fitness instructor – until becoming a full-time writer.
Robson first published in 1994 in the British small press magazine The Third Alternative but is best known as a novelist. Her debut novel Silver Screen was shortlisted for both the Arthur C Clarke Award and the BSFA Award in 2000. Her second novel, Mappa Mundi, was also shortlisted for the Arthur C Clarke Award in 2001. It won the 2000 Amazon.co.uk Writer’s Bursary. In 2004, Natural History, Robson’s third novel, was shortlisted for the BSFA Award, and came second in the John W Campbell Award.
Robson’s novels have been noted for sharply-drawn characters, and an intelligent and deeply thought-out approach to the tropes of the genre. She has been described as “one of the very best of the new British hard SF writers”.
This meeting is on Friday 9th October 2015 at the Briar Rose Hotel on Bennett’s Hill, Birmingham; this venue is just 5 minutes’ walk from New Street Station and handy for all bus routes into the city centre. The meeting opens its doors at 7:30 p.m for 8pm talk start and admission costs £4 (£3 members).
To download a pdf poster for this event, click on the following link:
The Birmingham Science Fiction Group was founded in 1971 to enable local and not so local fans to get together to discuss science fiction and related topics.
The group itself has many members of all ages, and between them the membership has an enormous wealth of knowledge of literary SF, as well as films, television, etc. If you want to know about a particular author or book, the BSFG is unlikely not to be able to help you! Just let them know you are a first timer when you turn up and any member will be happy to introduce to the committee and make you feel as welcome as they can.
If you live anywhere in or around the West Midlands, the BSFG is the group for you! For further information, and a copy of the group’s monthly newsletter, you are invited to:
Well, we’ve had more than 800 new visitors over the past three days, so we must be doing something right! Welcome to all our new readers.
Yes, it’s early days for House On The Borderland, but that just means our readers have got all the more to look forward to!
More news, events info, event reviews, book reviews and even short fiction are already lining up, some of which should appear over the next few days, so we hope you’ll keep on coming back!
And if you’re an author or publisher of science fiction (including steampunk), fantasy or weird pulp fiction, including factual books about these topics, please do consider sending us a copy of your work for review. Check out our Submissions page via the menu above.
Birmingham Science Fiction Group are holding their latest meeting on Friday 11th September 2015 at their usual venue, the Briar Rose Hotel, Bennett’s Hill, Birmingham (right in the city centre).
The highlight of the evening is a talk by Prof. Edward James, chair of the Science Fiction Foundation and the author of Science Fiction in the Twentieth Century for Oxford University Press (1994). In 2005 he won a Hugo for The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction.
He will be discussing his BSFA-Award winning work on SF & Fantasy writers in the Great War.
The meeting starts at 7.45pm and the talk begins at 8pm. Admission costs £3 for members, £4 for non-members.