Category Archives: Fantasy

2016 Gemmell Awards for Fantasy presented

Audience taking their places for the Gemmell Awards (courtesy Philip James Lunt)
Audience taking their places for the Gemmell Awards (picture Philip James Lunt)

Last Saturday 24th September saw the eighth presentation of the David Gemmell Awards for Fantasy at 8pm before a packed audience in the picturesque location of the Royal Ballroom at the Royal Hotel, Scarborough.

The awards, which are presented in memory of legendary British fantasy author, the late David Gemmell (1948-2006), and which this year also mark the tenth anniversary of his untimely passing, took place as part of the programme of the forty-first Fantasycon, one of the longest-running and most popular UK conventions.

The Awards

The David Gemmell Awards include:

The Ravenheart Award, named for one of David Gemmell’s novels, given to the artist/s responsible for the year’s best fantasy book cover art, as chosen by open vote.  The trophy is created annually by artist Lee Blair and was first presented in 2014.

The Ravenheart Award, created by Lee Blair
The Ravenheart Award, created by Lee Blair

The Morningstar Award, taking its name from one of David Gemmell’s bestselling novels, which honours the author judged, by open vote, to have made the year’s best debut in fantasy fiction.  The Morningstar trophy is also specially made by Lee Blair.

The Morningstar Award, created by Lee Blair
The Morningstar Award, created by Lee Blair

The Legend Award, named after David Gemmell’s first and most popular novel, presented to the fantasy title judged the year’s best by open vote. The trophy is a scale model of Snaga, the axe wielded by Gemmell’s iconic hero Druss, and is created specially each year by Simon Fearnhamm of Raven Armoury.

The Legend Award, created by Simon Fearnhamm
The Legend Award, created by Simon Fearnhamm

Public voting on the award longlist this year took place between Friday 13th May and Friday  24th June, and on the shortlist between Friday 8th July and Friday 19th August.

The programme book for this year’s Gemmell Awards was edited and designed by author and artist Anne Nicholls.

The programme book for the 2016 Gemmell Awards
The programme book for the 2016 Gemmell Awards
The Presenters and Guests
Chair and co-Treasurer of the Gemmell Awards author Stan Nicholls (left) and Phil Lunt (picture Peter Coleborn)
Chair and co-Treasurer of the Gemmell Awards author Stan Nicholls (left) and Phil Lunt (picture Peter Coleborn)

This year’s guest presenters included Phil Lunt, who opened with a flawless, pitch-perfect reading from ‘Legend’ and Ian Whates of Newcon Press, which has been so significant in helping to financially support the awards, who tantalised the audience with the possibility of a third ‘Legends’ anthology.

Andy Remic, presenting the Ravenheart Award, had everyone in stitches recounting how he corresponded with and subsequently met David Gemmell. Scott Lynch, the Morningstar Award presenter, spoke eloquently about the importance of supporting new writers; and Frances Hardinge, revealing the Legend Award winner, rounded-off the presenters’ speeches powerfully and succinctly.

Programme Book Editor/Awards Co-Treasurer author and artist Anne Nicholls presenting (picture Peter Coleborn)
Programme Book Editor/Awards Co-Treasurer author and artist Anne Nicholls presenting (picture Peter Coleborn)

Also in attendance were David Gemmell’s daughter Kate Armstrong-Gemmell and her family, along with Tiffany Lau, daughter of the Gemmell Awards’ principal founder, the sorely missed Deborah Miller. It was also the organisers’ pleasure to welcome Lee Blair, the artist who creates the unique Ravenheart and Morningstar trophies.

The Award-winners

The 2016 winners of this popular and prestigious series of literary awards are:

Ravenheart Award  Jason Chan for the cover of The Liar’s Key by Mark Lawrence. This award was accepted by Harper Collins editor Natasha Bardon, on behalf of Mr Chan.

Andy Remic presenting the Ravenheart Award (picture Peter Coleborn)
Andy Remic presenting the Ravenheart Award (picture Peter Coleborn)
Harper Collins editor Natasha Bardon accepting the Ravenheart Award on behalf of Jason Chan (picture Peter Coleborn).
Harper Collins editor Natasha Bardon accepting the Ravenheart Award on behalf of Jason Chan (picture Peter Coleborn).

Morningstar Award  The Vagrant by Peter Newman, who was on hand to accept his award in person.

Peter Newman (left) accepting the Morningstar Award from Scott Lynch (picture Peter Coleborn)
Peter Newman (left) accepting the Morningstar Award from Scott Lynch (picture Peter Coleborn)

Legend Award  The Liar’s Key by Mark Lawrence, whose award was also warmly-received on his behalf by Natasha Bardon of Harper Collins.

Natasha Bardon (left) and Frances Hardinge tussle over Snaga, the Legend Award trophy (picture Peter Coleborn).
Natasha Bardon (left) and Frances Hardinge tussle over Snaga, the Legend Award trophy (picture Peter Coleborn).
Mark Lawrence's agent Ian Drury speaking after Mark's Legend Award win (picture Peter Coleborn)
Mark Lawrence’s agent Ian Drury speaking after Mark’s Legend Award win (picture Peter Coleborn)

This makes this year’s awards a clean sweep for publishers Harper Collins.


The organisers of the David Gemmell Awards would like to thank a number of people who willingly give their time so that the Gemmell Awards can take place. They particularly want to thank Rachel Oakes for tech support, Jannie Vd Boogaard De Schrijverin for stewardship, and Sky Campbell, who fulfils the vital role of awards webmaster.

Thanks are also due to Alex Davis, Del Lakin-Smith and the entire Fantasycon committee, not forgetting the tireless red coat volunteers; Luke Gemmell, Dominic Harman, the awards’ media partner SFX magazine, all the publishers, and the event’s official photographer Peter Coleborn.

House On The Borderland would also like to credit and thank Peter Coleborn for the use of his event photographs in this feature, as well as British Fantasy Society Chair Philip James Lunt and the organisers of the awards, in particular Stan Nicholls, for permission to use these and other images and information produced by and for the Gemmell Awards.

Gemmell Awards 2016 all set for FantasyCon


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.

The David Gemmell Awards For Fantasy embrace three categories. The Legend Award honours the best fantasy novel, the Morningstar Award the best debut and the Ravenheart Award the best fantasy cover art. The awards are determined by an open vote and 2015 saw a record total of 36,759 votes cast.


Fantasycon 2016 logo

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
Stan Nicholls

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.”

The Gemmell Awards official website can be found at and its Facebook page For more information, please contact

The British Fantasy Society can be found at and its Facebook page is plus

For more information about the BFS, contact Helen Armfield –

Julia Knight – Author Interview & Competition

by Shellie Horst
Julia Knight (pic
Julia Knight (pic
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.

Swords And Scoundrels (Orbit)
Swords And Scoundrels (Orbit)

The first thing that strikes me about Julia Knight’s Swords and Scoundrels is the cover.

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, sliced into 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!

Shellie Horst

The Duellists series (Orbit)
The Duellists series (Orbit)

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.


Swords And Scoundrels (Orbit)
Swords And Scoundrels (Orbit)
Thanks to Julia’s generosity you now have the chance of winning a copy of Sword and Scoundrels!

To enter, simply share this post on social media, and leave a comment below.

We’ll announce the winner in House On The Borderland at the end of October 2015.

Find out more about Julia Knight

You can follow Julia on Twitter for more info about her, or visit her website.

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 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


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!

Stuart Williams

Unsung Live #2 short story evening in London

Unsung Stories logo

Indie SFF publisher Unsung Stories, based in London, UK, recently contacted us to submit one of their lates books for review – Deja Vu  by Ian Hocking. That’s undergoing our review process right now, but in the meantime they’d like us to let you know about an event they’re organising later this month.

Unsung Live #2

The event is Unsung Live #2 – a  short story evening which is taking place on Tuesday, 20th October 2015, from 7pm at The Star of Kings, 126 York Way, London, N1 0AX (map).

Unsung Stories say:

“After the resounding success of Unsung Live #1, we are happy to announce our second evening of storytelling for fans of science fiction, fantasy, horror and all the bits in-between.”

The lineup this time includes:

  • Simon Guerrier – Simon is the author of numerous Doctor Who books, comics and CDs, including The Scientific Secrets of Doctor Who. With his brother Thomas, he’s produced documentaries for Radio 3 and a number of acclaimed short films.  Twitter: @0tralala
  • David Hartley – David is a writer of strange stories, his fiction having appeared in numerous places including StructoDark FictionThe Alarmist and two Boo Books anthologies; After the Fall (2014) and We Can Improve You (2015). He has two collections of flash fiction, Threshold (Gumbo Press, 2015) and Merry Gentlemen. Twitter: @DHartleyWriter
  • Cassandra Khaw – Cassandra Khaw is Ysbryd Games’ business cat and an Ars Technica UK contributor. Her short fiction can be found at Unsung Shorts, Terraform, Shimmer, The Dark, and a variety of other places. She has a novella coming up with Abaddon Books sometime Soon.  Twitter: @casskhaw
  • Robert Sharp – Robert Sharp is Head of Campaigns & Communications at English PEN, and author of the Shirley Jackson Award-nominated novella The Good Shabti.  Twitter:  @robertsharp59
RSVP via Meetup

The event is FREE and all are welcome, but space is limited so make sure you RSVP.  You can do so via the event’s Meetup page:

And, say Unsung Stories, if you just can’t wait until then to scratch that short story itch, sign up for Unsung Shorts and get an original short story delivered to your inbox once a fortnight:

Unsung Stories “…publish intelligent genre fiction – science fiction, fantasy, horror, speculative, steampunk, and importantly those works that blur the boundaries between these genres.”

September Events UK


Conventions, Meetings & Exhibitions

The following events will soon be upon us – check out the links for further information!

Saturday 5th September 2015

International Comics Expo -The Studio, Cannon Street, Birmingham.

Sunday 6th September 2015

Comics Uncovered – The Studio, Cannon Street, Birmingham.  Linked with International Comics Expo, same venue.

Saturday – Sunday 5th-6th September 2015

Middle Earth Festival  – formerly The Tolkien Weekend, at and around Sarehole Mill, Hall Green, Birmingham.

Thursday – Sunday 10th-13th September 2015 

Oxonmoot  – the annual conference of The Tolkien Society, Oxford.

Friday 11th September 2015

Birmingham SF Group Meeting – talk by Prof. E. James, chair of the Science Fiction Foundation. Briar Rose Hotel, Bennett’s Hill, Birmingham. Click this link Edward James poster for details in pdf format.

Saturday 19th September 2015

British Science Fiction Association/British Fantasy Society 4th York Pubmeet – The Ackhorne pub, St Martin’s Lane, York.

Wednesday 23rd September 2015

British Science Fiction Association Open Meeting  – Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row, London, EC1Y 8ND.

Saturday 26th September 2015

BristolCon Science Fiction & Fantasy Convention – Doubletree Hotel, Bristol.

TitanCon – Science fiction and fantasy literature, media and gaming convention, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Sunday 27th  September 2015

The Second Crossness Steampunk Convivial – At Crossness Engines, Belvedere Road, Abbey Wood, London.

Post updated 3rd September 2015