Joe Abercrombie's Blog
May 8, 2015
Half a War is out in the UK on the 16th July, and I will be a-touring in Scotland and England once again that week. We’re trying to take in a few places we didn’t reach last time, including Preston, just down the road from Lancaster where I grew up…
Sunday 12th July
1.00PM – Signing at Waterstones, 128 Princes Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4AD. For more information please contact the store on 0131 226 2666
6.30PM – Talk at Waterstones, Glasgow Newton Mearns, 38 Avenue Centre, Newton Mearns, G77 6EY. Tickets are free but do need to be reserved in advance through Waterstones Newton Mearns or on 0141 6163933
Monday 13th July
1.00PM – Signing at Waterstones, Unit 1.23A, Metrocentre, Gateshead, NE11 9YG. For more information please contact the store on 0191 460 5910
7.00PM – Talk at Waterstones, 15 Coney Street, York YO1 9QL. Tickets are £3 for loyalty card holders and available in store or by telephone on 01904 620784
Tuesday 14th July
12.30PM – Signing at Waterstones 93-97 Albion Street, Leeds, LS1 5JS. For more information please contact the store on 0113 244 4588
6.30PM – Talk with Waterstones 3-5 Fishergate, Preston, PR1 3LJ at Foster Building, University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), Corporation Street, Preston, Lancashire, PR1 2HE. Tickets are £5/£3 for loyalty card holders and available from Waterstones Preston or by telephone on 01772 555766
Wednesday 15th July
12.30PM – Signing with Waterstones, 1/5 Bridlesmith Gate, Nottingham, NG1 2GR. For more information please contact the store on 0115 9470069
7.30PM – Talk with Toppings, 9 High Street, Ely, Cambridgeshire CB7 4LJ at St Peters Church Ely. Tickets are £6/7 (redeemable against the book) and available in store or by telephone on 01353 645005
Thursday 16th July
12.30PM – Signing at Waterstones 12-13 High Street, Colchester, CO1 1DA. For more information please contact the store on 01206 561307
7.00PM – Talk with Foyles, 107 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0DT. For tickets and more information please contact the store on 020 7437 5660
Friday 17th July
12.30PM – Signing at Waterstones, 12 Holy Brook Mall, The Oracle, Reading, RG1 2AQ. For more information please contact the store on 0118 950 3400
Early hardcover copies of Half a War will, of course, be available at all these events along with all my other books. I’ll also be appearing at the YA Lit. Con at London Film and Comic Con, but I’m not sure yet exactly when. When we do know there may also be an extra event or two, we shall see…
Lunchtime events tend to be signings of a queue up and get your book signed variety, evening events tend to be ticketed and follow a short talk, reading, Q&A style format, followed by signing. It would be only good manners to buy something from the store that’s hosting, but if you bring other books of mine to sign I’ll do my very best to oblige you. If you bring a lot of books (typically meaning you’re a dealer and are going to sell them) or have extravagant requests above and beyond simple signing and dedication, you might have to join the back of the queue and wait for the end. We are somewhat at the mercy of the various shops’ staffing policies, so can’t absolutely promise to get to everything, but we certainly will try.
May 6, 2015
The Spanish edition of Half a King, Medio Rey, is published tomorrow, May 7th by Penguin Random House’s new SF&F imprint Fantascy:
There’s also going to be a Catalan edition in due course, I believe. I’m going to be in Barcelona to meet bloggers and booksellers and do some interviews, and will be signing on the evening of the 20th May at the famous Gigamesh bookstore, where they already apparently have a reasonable selection of my work in translation…
Now that’s what I call a fantasy section. Hopefully I’ll see some of you there, but in the meantime for Spanish speakers among you there’s a translation of an interview I did with my Italian translator, Edoardo Realti, over here…
April 20, 2015
Rejoice, for the UK edition of the third and (for the time being) final book in my Shattered Sea series, Half a War now has a cover and copy. Behold:
Words are weapons
Princess Skara has seen all she loved made blood and ashes. She is left with only words. But the right words can be as deadly as any blade. She must conquer her fears and sharpen her wits to a lethal edge if she is to reclaim her birthright.
Only half a war is fought with swords
The deep-cunning Father Yarvi has walked a long road from crippled slave to king’s minister. He has made allies of old foes and stitched together an uneasy peace. But now the ruthless Grandmother Wexen has raised the greatest army since the elves made war on God, and put Bright Yilling at its head – a man who worships no god but Death.
Sometimes one must fight evil with evil
Some – like Thorn Bathu and the sword-bearer Raith – are born to fight, perhaps to die. Others – like Brand the smith and Koll the wood-carver – would rather stand in the light. But when Mother War spreads her iron wings, she may cast the whole Shattered Sea into darkness.
And I note that, should you desire, you can pre-order in electronic or hardcover formats from the retailer of your choice over here…
April 10, 2015
The David Gemmell Legend Awards are entering their seventh year and have a new and improved website. I’ve talked about the Gemmells in the past – in essence I’m a strong believer in them. In the notion of something that celebrates Gemmell’s very considerable contribution to British fantasy. In the notion of something that aims to involve as wide a range of voters as possible. In the notion of having an award for full-on, commercial, epic and heroic fantasy which, despite its very great popularity, does tend to get somewhat ignored by a lot of the other SF&F prizes. I’ve no particular problem with that, incidentally, it’s totally right and proper they should all have their own emphasis, but I see no harm in having one award that aims to celebrate the core, commercial epic fantasy which is, after all, bought, read and beloved by many.
So, please, go forth and vote. Anyone can do it. There are three categories – Legend for Best Fantasy Novel, Morningstar for Best Debut, Ravenheart for Best Cover Art and there are plenty of great books and writers on there. There’s a first round of voting to narrow down from a lengthy long list (which includes much of the epic/heroic style fantasy published this year) to a shortlist of 5, then a second round of voting to select a winner. I’ve often said I liked the original plan of a public vote to establish a shortlist and a jury to pick a winner, but they decided to go fully open public voting all the way and, though the Gemmells have come in for a fair bit of stick for being pointless and populist, in the light of what’s gone on with the Hugo award nominations this year, it’s suddenly looking like there’s a fair bit to be said for the Gemmell approach…
I join Adam Roberts in feeling a bit uncomfortable about the old self-pimpage, but I also think the Gemmell is in its infancy and relies to a degree on authors encouraging people through the doors so, yes, I will observe that Half a King is on the long list for the Legend this year, but I’ll keep it to a mention now and a reminder when the shortlist comes out, so I can shake my head wearily when I lose and blame it on the log-rolling rabble-rousing dirty tactics of the winner…
March 17, 2015
I was asked by a librarian in Visby, Sweden, to write a letter of inspiration for their fantasy section that might inspire people to read fantasy books. Thought I might as well re-post it here so that people outside of Visby might also benefit from my inspirationality (that’s a word now). Forgive my unusually pompous tone, if you can…
Dear Readers of Visby.
Fantasy is about myth, magic, monsters, mystery and wonder. It’s a window into other worlds, other times, other realities. Places that have never existed and could never exist, except in the minds of writer and reader.
But fantasy is also a window into our world. A way of talking about us. About the modern world. About the things that are universal to humanity. Love and hate, war and peace, truth and lies, courage and cowardice, victory and defeat, right and wrong and all the grey space in between. About politics, parenthood, money, violence, progress, belief, betrayal, ambition and triumph. About what it means to be a hero. About whether it is possible to be a hero.
And, of course, fantasy wouldn’t be much good if it wasn’t about fascinating, funny, strange, honest, conflicted people getting themselves into terrible trouble. And getting out again. If they’re lucky…
March 10, 2015
Back from a very pleasant trip to the Emirates Literary Festival in Dubai and having, for the first time in some considerable time, a little bit of a break, actually. Maybe the one I was supposed to be having when I started writing the Shattered Sea trilogy a couple of years back. The last book, Half a War, was a tough one to edit and with limited time, but I’m pleased to say it’s now turned in, edited, copy-edited, and due for release in July in hardcover, e-book and audiobook in the US and UK. Still some work to do on covers and maps and so forth, and because of the tight turn around the dates aren’t totally set yet, but I’ll have further details soon.
There’s not much rest for the grimdark, though. I’ll now be turning my attention back to the adult arena, hoping to get a few more stories together for a collection of First Law-based short stories which should hopefully be coming out in 2016 some time – that’ll contain all the short stories I’ve written in the First Law world, including those that have been published in special editions and anthologies and a few as yet unseen. As far as full-length books go, the plan is still for another trilogy set in the First Law world, but I’m still at a very early stage in the development of that, earlier than I’ve ever been before when finishing up a book. My plan is still, ideally, to draft out all three books before preparing the first for publication, which will hopefully mean we can publish all three in a timely fashion and in as good a state as they can be, but would mean a long wait for the first. We shall see. There are a few other non-book irons in the fire at the moment which look like they may keep me busy while I’m dreaming up ideas for this next trilogy.
I also seem to have got a hell of a lot of travel stacking up for this year. I’ll be at Eurocon in St. Petersburg in April, in Barcelona in May, Berlin and Stuttgart in June, touring in the UK for the release of Half a War in July, Poland in August, and Ireland in September. No firm details on any of these quite yet, but I’ll hope to let you know in due course…
And that is your progress report for March.
March 2, 2015
Things have been exceedingly quiet around here over the last month because I’ve been touring in Australia (further details on how that went over here) and also working flat out to get Half a War edited and then copy-edited. The downside of the quick publication schedule (three books in a year) is there’s always going to be a quick turnaround, and therefore high pressure on the edit for that last book. And so it has proved.
I cannot articulate how crucial a good edit is to a book. I finish a first draft knowing a lot of major changes I need to make, end up with a much tighter second draft and go through a whole round of further revisions focussing on secondary characters, on setting, on the detail of the writing, before turning it in to the editors, but even then new sets of eyes (and experienced expert eyes at that) will see shortcomings and areas for improvement you’ll never have thought of. It’s not necessarily the solutions you’re offered that are so important, as the problems that are brought to your attention and that you’ll work out your own solutions to – it’s important to maintain your own judgement. It’s also important to realise that your first reaction to every suggestion is to scream ‘fuck no!’ (preferably inside your head), and to give yourself some time to let things sink in, to see what you really do profoundly disagree with and what maybe hurts because it strikes a bit of a chord with some small doubts you’ve already had over a scene or character.
For the First Law books I had one editor, with the Shattered Sea books I’ve had four, plus three agents giving comments. That makes for a very different process, where rather than comparing one opinion with your own, you’re looking at a whole set of opinions, seeing what there’s agreement on, maybe discounting what there’s not agreement on, and trying to maintain your own judgement throughout.
The result was, in fact, not a lot of big changes, but an awful lot of small ones and also a general feeling that the book was a little loose and the writing not quite as sharp as it had been in previous books. There was concern about an event happening off-screen so I made an effort at writing a new chapter that brought it on-screen, but wasn’t totally happy with it and, indeed, my editors weren’t either, so I ditched it. There was one new one-page scene added and a few sections heavily cut and/or rewritten.
Otherwise it was a host of small tweaks, mostly centring on one of the three viewpoint characters, who, it was felt, was too sure of herself, too adult, and lacked a clear mission in the book. A lot of other minor issues to attend to, plus a thorough, detailed overhaul of the writing with an eye to cut, cut, cutting anything that made me the slightest bit uncomfortable. Ended up with a much improved book, I think, and one some 3,000 words shorter, despite all the additions of new thoughts.
The copy-edit, therefore, was pretty light, with just the usual hyphens, capitals and ‘z’s swapped for ‘s’s, and a few comments to consider, relatively easily dealt with. Job done. Half a War weighs in at 106,000 words, very close to Half the World in length. It’s due to be published late July, but I should know in the next couple of weeks whether that’s going to be possible. If not then, it should hopefully be very soon after…
March 1, 2015
Sons of Anarchy Season 6 – My love/hate relationship with the Sons somewhat continues, but hey, I’ve made it this far, so they must be doing something right. It’s still an odd mix of the rather cliche, silly and wearyingly sexist and the utterly clever, shocking and unpredictable. Charlie Hunnam has grown into his increasingly darkening role, somewhat, and the surviving members of the biker gang are thoroughly comfortable there. The violence is, if anything, dialled up a notch and there are some really spectacular shocks in this season. I expect the next and final one to be an absolute bloodbath.
Walking Dead Season 4 – Yes. Tough, sweaty, shocking, uncompromising, zombies, even worse people, etc. etc. A slightly bitty season which spends the first half tying up the last season, in a sense, and the second on a set of scattered story lines of somewhat varying effectiveness, but the core values remain in place. Good stuff.
True Detective – I must confess that I found this a bit less impressive than some of the gushing praise on twitter led me to expect. Undoubtedly it’s good, with a great pair of central performances from the lately rehabilitated Matthew McConnaughey and Woody Harrelson, plus much beautifully filmed deep south strangeness, long-drive philosophising and one particularly cracking one-take action sequence. I found the central thread of the case more than a bit meandering, though. Maybe that’s the truth of detective work but a show like the Wire managed to seem just as true while delivering much more narrative payoff. Your mileage may vary, evidently. I’ll certainly watch a second season.
Marco Polo – Netflix exclusive historical hischmorical programming with hot young Italian Marco Polo abandoned among Kublai Khan and his various Mongol and Southern Chinese friends and enemies and their poisonous politicking. Early episodes seem intent on out-boobing game of thrones. Boobs everywhere, like a collision between two boob trains. Like an explosive accident at a boob factory. But the boob quotient reduces later in favour of riding around, catapults, mysticism and some odd kung fu. It looks pretty, there are some good performances, and it’s interesting to see a western-made series with only really the one white actor and an otherwise pretty diverse cast, but it’s not exactly electrifying.
Attack on Titan – My mind was blown by Akira when I first saw it – on a massive screen at Glastonbury festival 23 years ago, funnily enough – and there will always be a place in my heart for the overwrought insanity of Fist of the North Star, but despite the occasionally gobsmacking ideas my history with anime has been a rocky one. Death Note was my last effort a few years back and it didn’t really work for me, but when I was in Detroit recently there was something on the screen that kept drawing my eye and someone said, ‘oh, yeah, that’s Attack on Titan, that’s supposed to be brilliant,’ so when I noticed it on Netflix I thought I’d give it a try, and I’m very glad I did.
Humanity have been herded into a walled compound beyond which lurk herds of gurning, brainless giants. Who eat people. Horribly. When they start coming over the walls, the outclassed military must try to find a way to fight them. And get eaten. Horribly.
These things often can’t sustain, and there are are perhaps worrying signs towards the end that it’s going to go in a slightly more familiar special-teenagers-pilot-giant-robots-to-save-the-world direction, but the first half of the season is great, horrifying, with some crazy ideas, and communicates a really powerful sense of what it’s like to fight an implacable, incomprehensible, undefeatable enemy.
Knights of Sidonia – the horrifying charms of Attack on Titan led me to look for more Anime. Knights of Sidonia has similar special teenagers taking on an implacable alien enemy, but this time from the confines of a generation ship in space rather than a walled compound. Not nearly such an edge on this, though, and the slightly weird art style, though pretty, is a bit distancing.
Arrow Season 2 – watched the whole season on flights to and from Australia, and thoroughly enjoyed it, I must say. They’ve maybe dialled back the pretensions of depth and I think the show feels more comfortable in its own skin as a result, with an extensive cast of mildly absurd heroes and villains now well established and striking nice sparks from one another. It all looks a million bucks, there’s some nice patter, some nice action, some nice split narrative between past and present. If you don’t like watching really pretty people work out a lot you may be bored, but hey, if you don’t like watching really pretty people work out what the fuck is wrong with you?
February 12, 2015
Half the World is published in the UK, let ring the bells!
Signed copies have been leaking out via Waterstones for some time now, in fact, but Amazon and other retailers should be shipping and stocking as of today. The mass-market paperback of Half a King, meanwhile has already been out for a couple of weeks:
Those across the pond need not despair, for Del Rey’s hardcover edition of Half the World will be with you in but a few short days on February 17th. Enjoy responsibly…
January 29, 2015
Details for a few forthcoming events. The UK tour for Half a King was but seven months ago, so we’re not doing a full tour this time around, just the one UK event at Forbidden Planet London, who have supported me with every book I’ve brought out, right back to The Blade Itself:
Sunday 8th February, 13.00-14.00, Forbidden Planet London, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, WC2H 8JR
I may read and talk a little beforehand, but the space isn’t ideal so we’ll see how it goes. I can’t promise to sign anything you don’t buy on the day, but I will try to as long as you buy something, and given that it’s a lunchtime event I expect I’ll fit everything in.
If you can’t make the event, I believe you can also order signed stock from Forbidden Planet at the bargain price of £9.99. You could probably even arrange a dedication…
THEN, shortly thereafter in February I will be touring Australia, with events in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, and Perth. Details:
Friday 13th February, 16.30-18.00, Dymocks 424-430 George St
Sunday 15th February, 14.00-15.30, Galaxy Bookshop 1/131-137 York St.
Monday 16th February, 18.30-20.00, Harry Hartog Bookstore, Westfield Woden
Tuesday 17th February, 18.00-20.00, Dymocks 234 Collins Street.
Thursday 19th February, 9.45-10.30, School’s Day Session – Keeping the Story Alive for ages 12-15, Murdoch Lecture Theatre
Friday 20th February, 13.00-14.00, The Hero’s Journey, Dolphin Theatre
Saturday 21st February, 13.00-14.00, In Conversation on Half a King, University Club Theatre
Sunday February 22nd, 16.00-17.00, Drawing from History, Woolnough Lecture Theatre
For further information on exactly what’s happening, you’re best off contacting the venues or events.